NASCAR severely penalized all four of the Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series teams as well as the No. 31 team of Kaulig Racing for “unapproved parts” at Phoenix Raceway last weekend.
On a blog post, NASCAR revealed they fined all four of the Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs $100,000 Those crew chiefs are Cliff Daniels, Kyle Larson’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, Chase Elliot’s crew chief, Rudy Fugle, William Byron’s crew chief, and Blake Harris, Alex Bowman’s crew chief. Justin Haley’s crew chief, Trent Owens, was also fined $100,000.
On top of the monetary fine, all five of the crew chiefs have been suspended for four races.
NASCAR also penalized each of the teams with a loss of 100 team and driver points as well as 10 playoff points. However, the No. 9 team did not lose any driver points given Josh Berry was filling in for the injured Chase Elliott.
The penalties came after NASCAR confiscated a number of hood louvers from the teams after they were used in a 50-minute practice session on Friday before the race at Phoenix Raceway.
NASCAR explained in their post that the hood louvers “are openings or vents in the hood that serve as a release point for ducts that transfer air out of the radiator. The system is intended to decouple engine performance from aero performance, offsetting the practice of teams taping off air intakes and placing undue pressure and heat strain on the car’s engine.”
The teams were specifically penalized for violating Sections 18.104.22.168.A of the NASCAR rulebook that deals with the radiator duct assembly and they “were found with unapproved modification of a single-source vendor-supplied part.”
NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer previously revealed NASCAR confiscated the hood louvres following the practice session.
“We did take some parts from the Hendrick cars. It’s not uncharted waters as you guys know that’s been around the sport for many years. From time to time we will take parts off cars, we’ll bring them back to the R&D Center. We’ll take a deeper dive into them to make sure they’re in compliance. And if they’re not we’ll move forward from there.”
The penalties do not affect the outcome of the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway. William Byron won the race, Kyle Larson finished 4th, Alex Bowman finished 9th, Josh Berry finished 10th, and Justin Haley finished in 27th.
NASCAR explained, “Hendrick replaced the louvers, and all four cars passed technical inspection before Sunday’s race at Phoenix.”
While the penalties don’t affect the outcome of the race, they do significantly impact the NASCAR Cup Series Standings. Before the penalty, Bowman was atop the standings with 154 points. The 100 point penalty drops him to a tie with Ryan Preece for 23rd.
Byron was sitting in 4th with 144 points. He will drop to 29th. Larson, who was sitting in 5th now sits in 32nd. Haley drops from 24th to dead last in 37th.
Hendrick Motorsports and its drivers and teams were not the only ones to be issued a points penalty. Denny Hamlin also received a 25 point driver penalty and a $50,000 fine “for violating Sections 4.4 in the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct, which cover attempting to manipulate the outcome of the race or championship; wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from competition as a result; and actions detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR.”
Hamlin admitted on his podcast, Actions Detrimental, that he intentionally wrecked Ross Chastain and attempted to drop his position at the end of the race at Phoenix Raceway.