Monday, June 5, 2023

Kaulig Racing Taking Hood Louver Case to Final Appeals Officer

Justin Haley penalty appeal Kaulig Racing Phoenix Raceway 2023
Justin Haley and the No. 31 Kaulig Racing team have had 25 of the 100 points they were docked following Phoenix Raceway restored by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel after appeal. Photo Credit: Tim Parks / HHP for Chevy Racing
UPDATE #2: Thursday, April 6, 2023, at 10:30 AM ET:

On Thursday, Kaulig Racing confirmed that the organization will take its appeal to a Final Appeals Officer, who will hear the appeal once more, in an attempt for Kaulig Racing to get its penalties reversed and/or further amended.

UPDATE #1: Wednesday, April 5, 2023, at 7:20 PM ET: 

ON NASCAR RaceHub on FS1, Chris Rice conducted an interview regarding the disappointing ruling by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel following Wednesday’s hearing of appeals.

Rice says no matter what the final ruling ends up being, he stands by his race team.

“Out of respect to everybody at NASCAR and everybody, I can’t talk too much about it. It’s disheartening,” Rice stated with a disappointed tone. “From Kaulig Racing, everybody from Matt Kaulig to myself, you know what goes on in the garage and you know what happens. Single-source suppliers and knowing rules and different things is really tough these days. I’m not going to lie, I sit here and stand behind my guys. I stand behind everybody at Kaulig Racing that we upheld the rules. We did what we know is legal.”

Rice says that despite the rough feelings he’s had in the aftermath of Wednesday’s ruling, he and his team do not give up.

“It’s been a tough hour or two,” Rice admitted. “I’m not going to be lied to. We’ll get through this. We’re a very strong race team, we’re only two years into the Cup Series. And that’s what’s big about our race team, we don’t give up. We’re not going to give up, we’re not going to give up on this. It’s just kind of disheartening.”

The thing on everyone’s mind is what was different about Kaulig Racing’s case from Hendrick Motorsports’ case? As far as we are all aware, both teams were facing the same penalty for the same crime.

Rice says he has spoken to Hendrick Motorsports, and feels that the penalty and case for the penalty were pretty close.

“We’re a Chevrolet team, right? And Chevrolet does an amazing job letting us all be close together, and yes I did. I talked to Jeff Gordon. I talked to Chad Knaus. I’ve had multiple conversations with those guys,” Rice said. “You know, what’s funny is we loaned those guys louvers at Phoenix, when their louvers got taken from our backup cars from Las Vegas.”

Rice continued by saying, “I do know their case. I wasn’t sitting in the room with them, so I can’t speak that in depth about it, but I did have conversations with them.”

Rice doesn’t want fans to think that he doesn’t believe tough penalties have a place in NASCAR, he feels the complete opposite. He just doesn’t feel what was dished out to his team in this case was warranted based on what he feels happened with the team’s hood louvers.

“I do understand we want tough penalties when the crime is granted, right? I do understand that and I do respect that. But when you look at everything that has gone down the last couple of weeks, you just kind of go, ‘Man, that’s really disheartening that Kaulig Racing is sitting here in this situation,’ and I have to sit on the side of the road with you guys and have this conversation,” Rice said.

As for the penalties, which had a slight reduction on Wednesday, Kaulig Racing does have the opportunity to make one final case for themselves in front of the final appeals officer.

Will Kaulig Racing take the case to its final appeal?

“We’ll make an announcement in the morning at 9-10 [AM ET], but I think you can tell from my feelings and where I am sitting at that we probably will continue on down a path of trying to fight this,” Rice stated. “But we’ll definitely make an announcement in the morning. I owe it to everybody at Kaulig Racing, man.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Wednesday, April 5, 2023, at 5:42 PM ET — 

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel heard Kaulig Racing’s appeal of an L2 penalty, which was handed out by NASCAR due to a discovered alteration with a hood louver following the Phoenix Raceway race weekend, on Wednesday.

Following the appeal by the No. 31 team, the National Motorsports Appeals Panel has amended the penalties sustained.

The No. 31 Kaulig Racing team had its points deduction reduced from 100 championship owner and driver points to 75 championship owner and driver points.

The 10 Playoff Points that were deducted from the team by NASCAR will remain intact.

The team will also still be fined $100,000 for the infraction and crew chief Trent Owens, who had still been on the pit box while the team waited on the appeals process, will still serve a four-race suspension, which will begin this weekend.

The restoration of 25 championship points will move Justin Haley from 40th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings back up to a tie for 35th with Travis Pastrana, who ran the season-opening Daytona 500 for 23XI Racing.

The owner points penalty being moved to 75 points, instead of 100, moves the No. 31 team into a tie for 37th in the NASCAR Cup Series owner standings.

Kaulig Racing had its appeal heard by three panelists Mr. Hunter Nickell, Ms. Shawna Robinson, and Mr. Steve York.

The ruling from the National Motorsports Appeals Panel confirms that the No. 31 Kaulig Racing team was indeed in breach of sections 10.5.1.A, 14.1.C,D&Q, and of the NASCAR Cup Series rulebook.

The ruling by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel is different than the decision made on the case of Hendrick Motorsports, which had all four of its cars found to have had altered hood louvers during the same race weekend that the No. 31 team was found to have had an altered hood louver.

In the case of Hendrick Motorsports, the organization’s four teams all received the restoration of the 100 championship owner and driver points and the restoration of the 10 Playoff Points that each team was docked following the Phoenix Raceway race weekend.

The monetary fines, totaling $400,000, and the four-race crew chief suspensions for the Hendrick teams remained intact following the appeals process.

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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