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Why Has NASCAR Hit Hendrick With More Penalties After Richmond Race?
The league levied the penalties on the racing juggernaut after two of its cars failed a post-race inspection at the Toyota Owners 400.
For the second time in less than a month, NASCAR has levied significant penalties against Hendrick Motorsports. League officials chose two Chevrolet Camaros – the No. 24, piloted by William Byron, and the No. 48, piloted by Alex Bowman – to further inspect at the NASCAR R&D center in North Carolina after the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. Following the conclusion of the inspection, the league handed down an L1-level penalty to the 14-time Cup Series championship racing outfit.
What rules did Hendrick Motorsports break?
NASCAR discovered that Hendrick Motorsports was in violation of two sections in the NASCAR Rule Book – section 14.1.D, Overall Assembled Vehicle Rules, and 14.1.2.B, Engineering Change Log.
Detailed on NASCAR.com, the rule that Hendrick Motorsports was deemed to have violated says: “The greenhouse may be modified to accommodate a windshield wiper motor where required; these modifications will be permitted for all race tracks. The greenhouse modification must conform to the following drawing.”
A NASCAR spokesperson confirmed that the penalty was assessed after inspectors discovered a modification to each car’s greenhouse area, which is the cockpit where the driver sits. This portion of the vehicle includes the roof as well as everything from the top of the door upward, such as the front and rear glass. Teams would deliberately modify this specific area with the hope of elevating a car’s aerodynamic profile to make it faster.
Hendrick's prior penalty unfolded at Phoenix after NASCAR deemed the hood louvers on the team’s four cars to be illegal. The louvers are a vented part of the hood that allow for hot air in the engine to escape.
How severe is the L1-level penalty NASCAR gave Hendrick Motorsports?
To be blunt, the penalty is significant as it means both team crew chiefs – Brian Campe and Greg Ives – will be suspended for two races and fined $75,000 for their role. Furthermore, the two teams from Hendrick will be docked 60 owner points and five playoff points.
For comparison, the first wave of infractions – an L2-level penalty – saw each team crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports fined $100,000 and suspended for four races. NASCAR slammed three of the four Hendrick Motorsports teams with the additional weight of 100 driver points and 10 playoff points; however, the racing outfit won a partial appeal on March 29, eliminating the massive points penalties for each team. The initial $100,000 fines were upheld, making its total the largest team fine ever handed out in NASCAR history.
What has Hendrick Motorsports said about its latest penalty from NASCAR?
Hendrick Motorsports has not declared if it plans to appeal the latest round of sanctions, but the team did make a statement following the league announcing its decision.
“We are reviewing the penalties issued today by NASCAR and will determine next steps following Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway,” read the team’s statement.
How does this affect Hendrick Motorsports’ drivers in the Cup Series points standings?
Prior to NASCAR handing down the penalties, Bowman was the outright points leader in this season’s Cup Series standings, but he wasn’t the only driver for Hendrick Motorsports whose championship aspirations were beginning to take shape. To his credit, Byron resided in fourth place with two victories already to his name and only 35 points away from his points-leading teammate. As it stands now, the penalties drop Bowman to seventh place and Byron to 14th. Trackhouse Racing's Ross Chastain now moves into first place in the Cup Series standings.