Hendrick Teams Penalized for Louvers at Phoenix, Appeals Planned; Hamlin Fined for Spinning Chastain

(CONCORD, NC – MAR 15, 2023 – RIS) NASCAR announced Wednesday that all four Hendrick Motorsports Cup entries have been penalized for the louvers confiscated last week at Phoenix. NASCAR discovered an apparent irregularity with the parts during voluntary inspections before the cars entered the track and then seized them several hour later, according to Hendrick, with no prior notice or discussion.

The penalties assessed include a loss of 100 points for driver and owner standings for each team and a $100,000 fine per team, plus a four-race suspension for the crew chiefs. HMS has given notice of appeal, but will not request a deferral of the suspensions, citing the drafting, superspeedway style racing now seen on Atlanta’s track.

A statement from the team says that: "On Friday at Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR identified louvers on our race cars during a voluntary inspection 35 minutes after the opening of the garage and prior to on-track activity. NASCAR took possession of the parts approximately four hours later with no prior communication. The situation had no bearing on Saturday’s qualifying session or Sunday’s race."

Hendrick added that the louvers produced by the single-source supplier do not match the approved design, also pointing out that the communication between NASCAR and competitors has been inconsistent, especially concerning the louvers. Hendrick’s comments also pointed out that recent similar penalties have been for infractions discovered in post-race inspections, rather than parts removed before any on-track activities.

“We are disappointed with today’s decision by NASCAR to issue penalties and have elected to appeal based on a variety of facts that include: louvers provided to teams through NASCAR’s mandated single-source supplier do not match the design submitted by the manufacturer and approved by NASCAR, documented inconsistent and unclear communication by the sanctioning body specifically related to louvers, recent comparable penalties issued by NASCAR have been related to issues discovered during a post-race inspection,” says the Hendrick statement. “For the March 19 NASCAR Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, our organization has made the strategic decision not to request deferral of personnel suspensions. Team rosters for this weekend will be updated as soon as substitute crew chiefs are determined.”

"There was nothing, not last week, not this week, that was getting them to Victory Lane other than a lot of hard work and great teamwork," vice chairman Jeff Gordon said after the win.

Denny Hamlin was fined $50,000 and docked 25 driver points for his actions in spinning Ross Chastain on the final lap of Sunday’s race. “It wasn’t a mistake. No, it wasn’t a mistake,” Hamlin said in the DirtyMo Media podcast. “I let the wheel go, and I said, ‘He’s coming with me.’ It’s been interesting because I hear people say this is for last year or this year. I got wrecked at the Clash. I don’t know that Ross sees it that way. I think he’s still curious about what I thought about the Clash. I don’t know why he wonders what I thought about the Clash.”

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

Read More on Cup / XFINITY / Truck news
Volume 2023, Issue 3, Posted 9:24 PM, 03.15.2023