On Tuesday, NASCAR announced a plethora of penalties to several NASCAR Cup Series organizations, as a result of various actions, comments, and incidents from last weekend’s contest at Phoenix Raceway.
The most severe penalties to come out of Phoenix Raceway were distributed to Hendrick Motorsports and Kaulig Racing, with a combined five entries being slapped with L2 penalties, for the illegal modification of a single-source part.
Entries that were piloted by Kyle Larson (No. 5), Josh Berry (No. 9), William Byron (No. 24), Justin Haley (No. 31), and Alex Bowman (No. 48) have each been deducted 100 driver and owner points, as well as 10 Playoff Points.
Meanwhile, crew chiefs Cliff Daniels (No. 5), Alan Gustafson (No. 9), Rudy Fugle (No. 24), Trent Owens (No. 31), and Blake Harris (No. 48) have each been suspended for the next four points-paying NASCAR Cup Series events, and assessed a fine of $100,000.
These point penalties have had the following impact on point standings:
- Kyle Larson drops from 5th to 32nd in NCS Driver Points.
- The Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 drops from 5th to 32nd in NCS Owner Points.
- William Byron drops from 4th to 29th in NCS Driver Points.
- The Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 drops from 4th to 28th in NCS Owner Points.
- Alex Bowman drops from 1st to 23rd in NCS Driver Points.
- The Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 drops from 1st to 23rd in NCS Owner Points.
- Justin Haley drops from 24th to 38th in NCS Driver Points.
- The Kaulig Racing No. 31 drops from 25th to 42nd in NCS Owner Points.
- Josh Berry is ineligible for NCS Driver Points.
- The Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 drops from 17th to 41st in NCS Owner Points.
UPDATE – March 15th at 2:00 PM ET: Hendrick Motorsports has announced that it will be appealing the penalties assessed to its four teams for the modification of a single-source NextGen part (hood louvers). The statement from the organization reads as follows:
“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.
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
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.
As of the time of the update, Kaulig Racing has yet to release a statement on the matter.
Stewart-Haas Racing is another organization that will face a penalty following Phoenix, after the right-front wheel on the No. 10 Ford Mustang, driven by Aric Almirola, flew off the car while on track.
As part of NASCAR’s new penalty structure for improperly secured wheels, Almirola was forced to serve a two-lap penalty during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Phoenix Raceway, which relegated the Tampa, Florida native to a finish outside the top-30.
In addition to the in-race penalty, served on Sunday, Stewart-Haas Racing and the No. 10 team will be without two key pit crew members for the next two weekends, as NASCAR has suspended jackman Sean Cotten and front tire changer Ryan Mulder.
Michael Osinski will serve as the interim jackman of the No. 10 Ford Mustang, while Davis Sampere will move into the position of front tire changer for the Stewart-Haas Racing entry over the next two weeks.
On a week-to-week basis, Osinski serves as a member of Stewart-Haas Racing’s backup pit crew, while Sampere serves on the pit crew for Rick Ware Racing’s No. 15 entry. Both are expected to return to their usual post at Richmond.
Finally, NASCAR has elected to assess a penalty to Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin, after some contact with long-term rival Ross Chastain in the final laps of Sunday’s United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
The penalty for Hamlin is limited to a $50,000 fine and 25 NASCAR Cup Series driver points.
However, it wasn’t the act of the contact itself that drew the penalty for Hamlin, but rather his comments on his relatively-new podcast ‘Actions Detrimental’, where he explicitly states that his contact with Ross Chastain was ‘not an accident’.
Hamlin was penalized under Section 4.4.B of the NASCAR Rule Book, which is outlined as “attempting to manipulate the outcome of the race or championship,” and “wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from competition as a result.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was also penalized surrounding Section 4.4.D of the NASCAR Rule Books, which is outlined by: “Actions by a NASCAR Member that NASCAR finds to be detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR.”
Why did others get suspended for intentional wrecking someone and not Hamlin? Let’s be consistent with the penalties!