NASCAR handed Hendrick its largest team penalty in history

CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — NASCAR on Wednesday slapped the largest combined fine on a team in series history, hammering Hendrick Motorsports for modifying air deflector parts at Phoenix Raceway last weekend.

Hendrick was fined a total of $400,000 — $100,000 for each of his four crew chiefs, along with four-race suspensions for the quartet — and the drivers each docked 100 regular-season points and 10 playoff points . Although NASCAR has issued major fines and suspensions, the Hendrick penalties are the largest combined penalty for an organization.

NASCAR’s winning team said it would appeal. William Byron has won consecutive races for Hendrick to give HMS two wins in the first four races of the season and Alex Bowman was the Cup Series points leader before his 100-point deduction.

“Friday at Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR identified air vents on our race cars during a voluntary inspection 35 minutes after the garage opened and before on-track activity began,” Hendrick Motorsports said in a statement. “NASCAR took possession of the parts approximately four hours later without notice. The situation had no impact on qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.”

HMS also said it was “disappointed” with the penalties and would appeal based on the following facts:

— Fins provided to teams through NASCAR-contracted individual suppliers do not match the manufacturer-submitted and NASCAR-approved design,

— Documented conflicting and unclear communication from the sanctioning body specifically in relation to louvers and

— Similar penalties recently issued by NASCAR relate to problems discovered during a post-race inspection

Hendrick said it will not seek a stay of the crew chief’s suspensions for this Sunday’s race in Atlanta when the appeals process begins.

Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley and his team received the same penalty, and NASCAR disputes the argument that the parts were out of specification when received.

“We knew these parts had been modified in an unauthorized area,” said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition.

NASCAR confiscated the Hendrick teams’ slats after practice at Phoenix Raceway. The louvers sit on top of the radiator ducts and direct air out of the hood, and any modification could affect downforce. The point penalties dropped Bowman from first to 23rd in the Cup standings, Byron from fourth to 29th and Kyle Larson from fifth to 32nd.

Chase Elliott, who missed Phoenix due to a broken leg, was not penalized. Because his reserve driver doesn’t get any points in the Cup Series, Josh Berry wasn’t penalized either.

NASCAR, meanwhile, also penalized Denny Hamlin with 25 points and a $50,000 fine for intentionally destroying Ross Chastain on Sunday’s final lap.


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