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The original idea behind stock car racing was to put basic street-legal cars on a racetrack to compete.

However, pit crews have naturally always wanted to find ways to make their cars go faster.

But there’s a line with that. What’s cheating and what’s not?

Biggest Fines Ever

Motorsports reports, “The penalty handed out to Team Penske’s Joey Logano, fined $10,000 for wearing webbed gloves to restrict air coming into his cockpit and thereby reduce drag during qualifying in Atlanta, is a perfect example of discovering enterprising solutions that have a material impact (quite literally in this case!).”

“Fast forward to the modern era, and the introduction of the Next Gen car in the 2022 season: NASCAR updated its penalty system to include much harsher consequences for violations – including the revoking of playoff eligibility – with respect to modifying parts from single-source suppliers,” they added.

The story continued:

Much of the construction of the Next Gen car revolves around single-source supplied parts, greatly reducing or eliminating the need of individual teams to spend money developing and producing their own.

And while this didn’t stop teams from pushing those boundaries, it’s turned into quite a costly exercise to find out what they can get away with… And that includes the sport’s biggest teams.

In March 2023, NASCAR issued penalties to five Cup Series teams – all four Hendrick Motorsports cars and one from Kaulig Racing – for the unapproved modification of a single-source part, namely the hood louvers.

The Level 2 transgression was, per NASCAR’s rulebook, “A Radiator Duct Note: Unapproved modification of a single source vendor supplied part (hood louvers).”

Hood louvers are vents in the hood on each manufacturer’s car that serve as a release point for ducts that transfer air out of the radiator.

The use of vents prevents the need for teams to tape up the front grille of car, which had been used extensively as a performance adjustment tool in the previous iteration of race car.

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The report ran down who was penalized.

“The No. 5 team of Kyle Larson, the No. 24 of William Byron, the No. 48 of Alex Bowman – all Hendrick – and the No. 31 of Justin Haley (Kaulig) were all penalized 100 driver points, 100 owner points and 10 playoff points,” Motorsports noted. “The No. 9 of Chase Elliott, also from HMS, was docked 100 owner points and 10 playoff points – but no driver points since Elliott was not driving the car at the time while recovering from injury.”

“But the headline news, financially, was that all five crew chiefs of the respective drivers were fined $100,000 (paid by the teams) and suspended for four races each,” the story added.

“The teams appealed against the decision.”

How do you keep ‘stock’ cars relatively stock?

It seems NASCAR is trying to answer that question.