NASCAR Cup Series

Hendrick, Haley, Hamlin receive major penalties after Phoenix

2 Mins read
Credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Hendrick Motorsports might be on a two-race win streak with William Byron, but all of his and his team-mates’ progress have been wiped. On Wednesday, NASCAR announced Byron, Alex Bowman, and Kyle Larson as well as Hendrick ally Justin Haley have all lost 100 points and ten playoff points due to unapproved modifications of their cars’ hood louvers.

The fourth Hendrick car, the #9, was also penalised with 100 owner points. Driver Chase Elliott was not impacted as he was out due to injury, while his replacement Josh Berry is racing for Xfinity Series points.

The louver is an opening in the hood which allows air to travel between it and the engine to keep it cool while the car is in motioin. Like with many parts on the Next Gen car, the louver is supplied from a single vendor and therefore may not be modified at the risk of severe penalties. Infractions fall under Section 14.1 of the rulebook concerning vehicle assembly, with radiator duct violations being under 14.5.4.A.

The Chevrolets’ parts were confiscated prior to last weekend’s race weekend at Phoenix Raceway, which Byron won. Besides losing standing points, all five are docked ten playoff points and their crew chiefs Cliff Daniels (Larson), Ryan Fugle (Byron), Alan Gustafson (Elliott/Berry), and Blake Harris (Bowman) were suspended four races and fined USD$100,000 (€94,525). The $400,000 (€378,092) is the most fined for an organisation for a single penalty in NASCAR history.

In 2022, the first year of the Next Gen car, Michael McDowell and Brad Keselowski lost 100 points for such parts modifications.

With the penalties, Bowman loses his points lead and falls to twenty-third in the standings, which promoted Kevin Harvick to first. Byron drops from fourth to twenty-ninth while Larson moves to thirty-second and Haley sinks to forty-ninth with negative-forty. Ironically, Elliott’s absence means he instead moves up from twenty-ninth to twenty-sixth.

In a more unusual circumstance, Denny Hamlin lost twenty-five points and $50,000 (€47,282.50) for intentionally squeezing Ross Chastain, who quarreled with each other during the 2022 season, into the wall on the final lap. Oddly, he probably would have gotten away with the act as a simple racing deal had he not confessed to intentionally doing it on the latest episode of his Actions Detrimental podcast released Monday. Aptly, the penalty comes in a violation of Section 4.4.D for “actions detrimental to stock car racing” as well as 4.4.B concerning manipulating a race result by attempting to take out a rival.

The penalty drops Hamlin from seventh to sixteenth.

All are permitted to appeal, though Hamlin does not intend to do so.

“I won’t be making a appeal to NASCAR. However I will be making an appeal to the people,” he tweeted. “I’ll see you next Monday.”

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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