Skip to main content

Hendrick Motorsports admits to modifying parts that caused big penalties at Phoenix

Hendrick Motorsports admits to modifying the hood louvers to fit the cars after big penalties. Could the organization win its appeal in the near future?

NASCAR: Ambetter Health 400

Hendrick Motorsports has itself in a tough situation after NASCAR penalized the team for modifying a single source part on the NextGen car across all four entries. While an appeal is coming, the case likely got harder for them last weekend.

Find out the latest on Hendrick Motorsports’ big penalties for modifying a NextGen part.

Hendrick Motorsports admits to modifying hood louvers before Phoenix Raceway

Hendrick Motorsports
Mar 10, 2023; Avondale, Arizona, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (5) during practice for the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Hendrick Motorsports received a hefty penalty last week after NASCAR inspected the confiscated hood louvers from Phoenix Raceway. The penalty included the following reductions and fines.

  • 100 driver points (5/24/48), 100 owner points (all cars), 10 playoff points (5/24/48), $100K fine for each are, all four crew chiefs suspended four races

The team will appeal NASCAR’s decision; however, the crew chiefs did miss the action at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend. It still remains uncertain whether Hendrick Motorsports will ask for the suspensions to be moved back for the time being.

Chad Knaus, Vice President of Competition at Hendrick Motorsports, talked to the media about the unfortunate situation ahead of the Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

When asked by FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass whether the organization modified the hood louvers to fit the CAD, this is what Knaus had to say.

“(Hendrick Motorsports) made sure that our parts fit the hood and the hood closed and did all of the stuff it needed to do.

Chad Knaus on Hendrick Motorsports’ hood louvers

Knaus essentially admitted that Hendrick Motorsports modified the hood louvers to fit the car without saying “yes.” This has been the story as the hood louvers are reportedly not coming to the teams fully correct.

However, will the story of the parts not fitting the car and the lack of communication be enough for Hendrick Motorsports to win the appeal? Continue reading to find out if they have a case.

Related: NASCAR considering big rule change after mixed driver feedback in 2023

Evaluating if Hendrick Motorsports could win their appeal

Syndication: Arizona Republic
Mar 12, 2023; Avondale, AZ, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver William Byron (24) looks at his trophy after winning the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale on March 12, 2023. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic Nascar Cup Race

The appeal date has not been set but Hendrick Motorsports has to present an incredible case for the penalties issued by NASCAR to be reduced or overturned. Quite frankly, it would be a massive upset overall.

NASCAR has been strict on penalties that happen due to modifying NextGen car parts. Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell, and Kevin Harvick all understand after they got the same penalties as Hendrick Motorsports.

There will be debates on whether NASCAR communicated properly with the organization but the public won’t be able to understand everything. Therefore, we have to evaluate based on what we know from a public view.

If that is how we are looking at it, Hendrick Motorsports is throwing a hail mary and hoping it lands in the arms of a wide receiver. At the end of the day, the organization modified a NextGen part.

Sure, the hood louvers may have not fit but if they worked with NASCAR, this would not have been an issue. Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition, said that teams were approved to make modifications but Hendrick Motorsports went outside of those approved areas.

If NASCAR’s stance on the subject is true, Hendrick Motorsports likely has a very small chance of having anything go their way in the appeal process. Plus, why wouldn’t the team talk with NASCAR and fully get the OK to go forward with the modification?

No organization has been successful in appealing these NextGen modification penalties. In fact, history suggests that NASCAR’s penalties usually go forward without any changes in any manner.

It will be interesting to see if Hendrick Motorsports can develop a case to get the penalty reduced; however, a full reversal seems very unlikely as it would set a dangerous precedent moving forward.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: