On Wednesday, NASCAR officially announced a plethora of penalties to various different NASCAR Cup Series drivers and organizations, following last weekend's events at Phoenix Raceway.
Five different NASCAR Cup Series teams - four from Hendrick Motorsports and one from Kaulig Racing - have been assessed L2 penalties, after the sanctioning body discovered the teams had modified hood louvers, a single-source part for the NextGen car.
As a result, the No. 5, No. 9, No. 24, No. 31, and No. 48 will all receive substantial penalties, which begins with the loss of 100 NASCAR Cup Series owner points, as well as the loss of 10 Playoff Points.
Kyle Larson (#5), William Byron (#24), Justin Haley (#31), and Alex Bowman (#48) will also be assessed with the loss of 100 NASCAR Cup Series driver points. Josh Berry, who drove the No. 9 at Phoenix, is ineligible for NASCAR Cup Series points.
The damage, however, does not stop at point standings, as crew chiefs Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle, Blake Harris, and Trent Owners have each been fined $100k and suspended for the next four points paying event.
Neither Hendrick Motorsports nor Kaulig Racing has officially released a statement on the penalties, as of the time of posting. No word on who would fill-in as crew chiefs.
Additionally, Stewart-Haas Racing has been handed a smaller penalty following Phoenix Raceway, after the wheel of the No. 10 Ford Mustang became unattached on-track during Sunday's event.
Almirola had to serve a two-lap penalty in-race on Sunday, but as part of NASCAR's new penalty system for improperly secured wheels will lose jackman Sean Cotten and front tire changer Ryan Mulder for the next two events.
Michael Osinski, a member of Stewart-Haas Racing's backup pit crew, will serve as jackman for the No. 10 at Atlanta and COTA, while Rick Ware Racing crew member Davis Sampere will serve as front tire changer, per NASCAR's team rosters.
Finally, NASCAR has decided to penalize Denny Hamlin, fining him $50,000 and docking him 25 NASCAR Cup Series driver points, for his actions in the closing laps of Sunday's event.
On his podcast 'Actions Detrimental', Hamlin revealed that the incident with Ross Chastain was not a mistake, and was done intentionally, with the purpose of putting the No. 1 Chevrolet into the outside wall.
Additional updates on all aspects of this story - from Hendrick Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and/or Denny Hamlin - will be added below as they become available.
UPDATE #1 (03/15/2023 at 2:00PM ET): On Wednesday, Hendrick Motorsports released a statement saying that the organization plans to appeal the L2 Penalties assessed to its four teams, but has chosen not to request a deferral of personnel suspensions. The statement 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.
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