Brought the hammer down…
NASCAR just announced that all of Hendrick Motorsports’ four Cup Series teams, the No. 5 driven by Kyle Larson, the No. 9 of Josh Berry (subbing for Chase Elliott), No. 24 of William Byron and No. 48 of Alex Bowman, as well as the No. 31 of Justin Haley and the Kaulig team, received L2-level penalties on Wednesday.
Each crew chief was fined $100,000 and suspended for four races, which is quite a hefty price to pay in and of itself, but they were also deducted 100 points per team and driver points, and 10 playoff points.
The crew chiefs fined Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle and Blake Harris for Hendrick and Trent Owens for Kaulig.
The points deduction didn’t apply to the #9 car of Chase Elliot, as Josh Berry is typically an Xfinity driver who was filling in for him because of a recent broken leg.
NASCAR said all of this comes as a result of the teams using unapproved parts modifications having to do with the hood louvers last weekend at Phoenix Raceway:
“Sections 220.127.116.11.A, which deals with how the radiator duct is assembled.
The teams were found with unapproved modification of a single-source vendor-supplied part.”
The questionable parts were confiscating before the race and replaced with approved parts, and all four Hendrick cars passed technical inspection before they started on Sunday.
NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, Elton Sawyer, said in a press conference that the penalty falls in line with Next Gen car standards, which first came into play last season:
“We, from time to time, will capture parts, we’ll bring them back. And as we continue to investigate and look at parts and comparing parts, it was obvious to us that these parts had been modified in an area that wasn’t approved.
This is a consistent penalty with what we went through last year with other competitors — the 6, the 34.
So we felt like to keep the garage on a level playing field, the competition level where it needs to be, all the dialogue that went around this car last year working with the owners on what the deterrent model should be, we were put in a position that we did feel like there was no other way but to write a penalty.”
In addition to the aforementioned teams being penalized, the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin was also fined after Denny found himself in hot water for a questionable, yet admittedly purposeful, move to win the United Rentals Work United 500 that ultimately resulted in wrecking competitor Ross Chastain…
I don’t think he helped himself at all by saying he did it on purpose, but Denny’s always gonna tell you exactly what he thinks, that’s for sure:
“$50,000 and lost 25 driver points for violating Sections 4.4 in the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct.”
The Cup Series returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Ambetter Health 400 on Sunday, March 19th at 3PM EST.