NASCAR slams Hendrick and Coolidge with heavy blows

NASCAR has issued its biggest penalties yet to Cup Series teams found to have changed parts from a single-source supplier on a next-generation car.

NASCAR issued penalties Wednesday to five Cup Series teams — all four from Hendrick Motorsports and one from Kaulig Racing — for unapproved modification of a single-source part.

The No. 5 team with driver Kyle Larson, No. 24 William Byron, No. 48 Alex Bowman – all from Hendrick – and No. 31 driver Justin Haley were all penalized 100 driver points, 100 owner points and 10 playoff points.

No. 9 of Chase Elliott, also from HMS, was credited with 100 owner points and 10 playoff points – no driver points as Elliott is not currently driving and recovering from injury.

In addition, all five crew chiefs on the respective teams were fined $100,000 and suspended four races each.

The reason for the penalties

The infringement was indicated as of Sections 6.1.A Time/Method/Location; 14.1 C&D&Q Total Combined Vehicle Rules; 14.5.4.2.A Radiator Duct Note: Unapproved modification of the part supplied from one vendor (bonnet vents).

Hood vents are openings in the hood of each manufacturer’s vehicle that serve as the launch point for the ducts that carry air out of the radiator.

The use of the vents precluded the need for teams to affix the car’s front grille, which had been widely used as a performance-tuning tool in the previous iteration of the race car.

During the initial inspection last Friday at Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR inspectors discovered issues with the hood vents on all four HMS cars—No. 5 Larson, No. 9 Perry, No. 24 Byron and No. 48 Bowman.

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Teams were allowed to use them during training and they were confiscated. Teams were allowed to change slots before Saturday’s qualifying session.

Additionally, prior to last Saturday’s Cup playoffs, NASCAR also confiscated the hood vents from the No. 31 Chevrolet College. The team was allowed to replace them and take part in the time trials.

All of the slots were returned to NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, NC, for further evaluation.

With the introduction of the next-generation car in the 2022 season, NASCAR has updated its sanctioning system to include much harsher consequences for violations, including elimination of playoff eligibility, particularly in relation to retrofitting parts from single-source suppliers.

Front Row Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing were all hit with harsh penalties last season for modifying parts supplied from a single source.

Hendrik will appeal

HMS will appeal the penalties, issuing the following statement: “On Friday at Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR located the air vents on our race cars during a voluntary inspection 35 minutes after garage opening and prior to on-track activity. NASCAR acquired the parts after approximately four hours without contact. Prior to that, the situation had no effect on either the Saturday qualifying session or the Sunday race.

“We are disappointed with today’s decision by NASCAR to issue penalties and have elected to appeal based on a variety of facts.”

Then the team listed the following:

– Louvers supplied to teams through a NASCAR-authorized single source supplier do not match a manufacturer-supplied, NASCAR-approved design.

– Inconsistent and unclear connections documented by the sanctioning body specifically related to ventilation holes

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– Recent similar penalties issued by NASCAR were related to issues discovered during post-race inspection.

The organization also made a “strategic decision” not to request a deferment of the crew chief’s suspension.

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