NASCAR's playoffs are set to begin with a new set of rules that gives the sanctioning body the power to issue far stiffer penalties — so stringent that a driver could lose the championship if his team fails inspection.
The increased penalties announced Wednesday give NASCAR the authority to levy a harsh penalty should a car fail a post-race trip to the Laser Inspection Station. How stiff? A winning team would not be able to use the victory to advance to the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
The same penalty could apply to a team that does not have enough secure lug nuts on a car's wheels at the end of a race.
The new punishments, under...