NASCAR issued an official statement noting their disappointment at the National Motorsports Appeal Panel rescinding the 100 point driver and owner points penalties that were levied against them for “unapproved parts modifications.”
NASCAR originally penalized all four of the Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series teams for “unapproved parts” at Phoenix Raceway. They detailed at the time the parts in question were a number of hood louvers that they had confiscated following a 50-minute practice sessions on Friday before the race.
NASCAR explained the hood louvers “are openings or vents in the hood that serve as a release point for ducts that transfer air out of the radiator. The system is intended to decouple engine performance from aero performance, offsetting the practice of teams taping off air intakes and placing undue pressure and heat strain on the car’s engine.”
They then noted the teamer were penalized for violating Sections 126.96.36.199.A of the NASCAR rulebook dealing with the radiator duct assembly and “were found with unapproved modification of a single-source vendor-supplied part.”
Due to the violation, NASCAR fined all four Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs, Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle, and Blake Harris $100,000. All four of them were also suspended for four races.
On top of the fines and suspensions they penalized each of the teams with a loss of 100 team and driver points as well as 10 playoff points. Chase Elliott did not lose any driver points given Josh Berry was driving the No.9 for the injured Elliott.
The National Motorsports Appeals Panel amended NASCAR’s initial ruling by restoring to the teams the 100 driver and owner points as well as the 10 playoff points.
However, the panel upheld the $100,000 fines to the crew chiefs as well as their four race suspensions.
In response to this ruling NASCAR issued the following statement, “We are pleased that the National Motorsports Appeals Panel agreed that Hendrick Motorsports violated the rule book. However, we are disappointed that the entirety of the penalty was not upheld.”
“A points penalty is a strong deterrent that is necessary to govern the garage following the rule book violations, and we believe that it was an important part of the penalty in this case and moving forward,” NASCAR added.
They concluded, “We will continue to inspect and officiate the NASCAR garage at the highest level of scrutiny to ensure a fair and level playing field for our fans and the entire garage.”
What do you make of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel’s ruling? What do you think about NASCAR’s response to the ruling?