NASCAR Hits Hendrick Motorsports With Historic $400,000 Total Penalty For Unapproved Parts Modifications

NASCAR on Wednesday announced a series of penalties resulting from the final Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway. Most notable is an L2 level penalty imposed on all four Hendrick Motorsports teams for unauthorized parts modifications. NASCAR issued a similar penalty to Kaulig Racing.

After Friday’s practice, NASCAR confiscated the hood louvers of all four Hendrick Motorsports cars, as well as the No. 31 Kaulig Racing car, which were then returned to the sport’s Concord, NC, research and development center, according to sanctions officials that were found The teams have illegally modified a part supplied by a one-stop shop supplier in violation of NASCAR rulebook sections dealing with radiator duct assembly.

As a result, the following penalties were imposed:

  • All four Hendrick Motorsports teams and the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Team were penalized with the loss of 100 owner points and 10 playoff points
  • Crew chiefs Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle, Trent Owens and Blake Harris were all fined $100,000 and suspended for the next four Cup Series races
  • Drivers Kyle Larson, William Byron, Justin Haley and Alex Bowman were all penalized with 100 driver points and 10 playoff points

According to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrassthe combined $400,000 fine for Hendrick Motorsports is the largest ever imposed on a single organization in NASCAR’s history (although the sanctions agency has imposed larger individual fines on teams in the past).

Hendrick rider Chase Elliott, who is recovering from a leg injury sustained in a snowboarding accident, was not penalized, nor was substitute rider Josh Berry, who does not receive Cup Series points.

The Hendrick Motorsports cars have won the last two races of the Cup Series with William Byron but the seizure of their bonnet louvers at the end of last weekend was a major concern. NASCAR Hall of Famer and Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman Jeff Gordon admitted as much in a post-race press conference.

“I can tell you it kept us all busy when we came here today. We will certainly continue,” said Gordon. “We have had some discussions with NASCAR and will continue to have discussions. Every situation is kind of unique, but this is more unique than I’ve seen in a while where there has been a lot of back and forth communication on this part, specifically for this circuit because they did a parity test in the wind tunnel.

“I think it really opened the door for some misunderstandings. I don’t want to go any further. We will continue to just share all the facts and be as transparent with NASCAR as we have been.”

Aside from NASCAR’s penalties for technical offenses, the sanctioning agency also penalized driver Denny Hamlin after he admitted on his podcast that he intentionally wall-ramped Ross Chastain on the final lap while driving for position.

Hamlin claimed that when his car pushed up the track at Turn 1 and he realized he was about to lose his position, he decided to let go of the wheel and pinned Chastain – who had run outside – against the wall to take him with him him back across the field. As a result, Hamlin was penalized 25 driver points and fined $50,000 for violating Section 4.4 of the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct, which stipulates “scrap or skid any other vehicle, whether or not it takes that vehicle out of the.” competition is taken or not”.

Hamlin and Chastain have had a number of on-track clashes over the past year, including incidents at Gateway, Atlanta and Pocono – and of course at the Hail Melon in Martinsville, where Chastain wall-rideed Hamlin for last place in Championship 4.

The two also got together during the Busch Light Clash at the LA Coliseum in February while Chastain was filming Hamlin.

Hamlin claimed Phoenix wasn’t in retaliation for a previous incident, and he admitted he had cost himself and his team positions because his car ended up being pinned against Chastains. The two spoke in the pit lane after the race, with Hamlin recounting that he wanted Chastain to take responsibility for past incidents and that he didn’t want to have any more problems with him.

“He came up to me and said, ‘I think I deserve it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I think so,'” said Hamlin. “I’m not going to sit here on this podcast and ever lie to you guys and say, ‘Well, that’s an accident’ when it’s not. It wasn’t an accident , I wanted to put it in the fence, but I did it. I don’t want to fool my team.

“…We’ve had a chat and I think we’re in a better place where we’re ready to put the past behind us. And I think we’re going to judge each other from that point on, and I think that’s the fairest way to do it.”

The last team included in NASCAR’s penalties was the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Team, which was ruled a safety violation after an improperly installed wheel fell off Aric Almirola’s car in Phoenix. Crew members Ryan Mulder and Sean Cotten were suspended for the next two races.

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