Mike Harmon Racing will still be in a hole to start the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, but at least it is only in the standings. On Thursday, the National Motorsports Appeal Board announced it has rescinded a $50,000 fine and six-race suspension of crew chief Ryan Bell for a testing violation that occurred in November. However, the team’s #74 Chevrolet Camaro still has a seventy-five-point penalty.
In November, MHR and owner Mike Harmon participated in a charity event at Rockingham Speedway, where they brought the #74 Camaro. However, NASCAR slapped the team with an L2 penalty, citing Section 5.1.a.c.d of the rulebook which prohibits the use of current race cars in unsanctioned test sessions. MHR asserted such a penalty was unnecessary as a charity event and launched an appeal that was heard by the NMAB.
Final Appeal Officer Roger Werner elected to uphold the points penalty but withdrew the fine and suspension on the grounds of the 2022 rulebook, which allows penalties to be what FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass described as being “applied on an ‘and/or’ basis.”
“We respect the final decisions of the National Motorsports Appeal Officer and look forward to moving past this and prepare for the 2022 season,” read a statement from MHR. “We respect all aspects of rules and regulations in NASCAR and will continue to work with NASCAR and their partners to ensure the series is successful. MHR crew is working at the shop to prepare our cars to compete in the season opener. Beef It’s What’s for Dinner 300 on Saturday February 19, 2022 at Daytona International Speedway. We want to thank our amazing fans, supporters, and great partners as we enter the 2022 season.”
Harmon and his team will begin the season with negative points. While the #74 car could dig out of the hole, Harmon himself will likely remain in it as he has downscaled his driving schedule in recent years in favour of hiring permanent drivers. Since 2020, he has only run five races with a combined seventy-four points across two seasons.
MHR has yet to announce a 2022 lineup after the departures of Bayley Currey and Kyle Weatherman. On Monday, TobyChristie.com reported Joe Nemechek has spoken with the team about driving one of the two cars at Daytona, though he has also talked with another organisation whose identity he did not reveal. The 1992 Xfinity Series champion ran seventeen races for MHR in 2019 and 2020.