Last week it was announced that Hendrick Motorsports’ L-1 penalty had been amended by the Motorsports Appeal Pannel, an independent group with no direct connection to NASCAR. While admitting that Hendrick Motorsports did modify a single-source supplier part in the hood louvers, the panel decided to rescind the points deductions (100 driver and owner points for each team, save for Chase Elliott) while keeping the monetary fine ($100,000 for each team) and crew chief suspension (4 races) in place.
This sparked a lot of confusion amongst fans as well as outrage from NASCAR. With how often NASCAR is compared to “stick-and-ball” sports (admittedly to the dismay of NASCAR fans), the change in the severity of the Hendrick Motorsports penalty left many scratching their heads.
If HMS was guilty of any wrong doing, why wasn’t the penalty upheld in its entirety? Or, by contrast, if HMS was cleared outright, why did some of the penalty remain?
Following the conclusion of the race at Richmond which saw HMS driver Kyle Larson go on to score the victory, William Byron’s No. 24 and Alex Bowman’s No. 48 cars were subject to NASCAR “random” selection for cars to take back to NASCAR’s R&D Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was there where more modifications to the NextGen car were found, this time with the greenhouse area.
The specific part of the car that was modified had to do with the area where windshield wiper motors are, though no further explanation was given. Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports tweeted this the following:
This resulted in another L-1 penalty which sees Alex Bowman and Williams Byron getting deducted 60 driver and owner points (the former dropping from 1st to 7th in the standings, Byron from 7th to 14th) with interim crew chiefs, Brian Campe and Greg Ives being suspended for 2 races (starting April 13th) and being fined $75,000 apiece.
With this penalty in conjunction with the Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinding HMS’s previous L-1 penalty last week while upholding Kaulig’s similar penalty this week, it would appear that NASCSAR has gotten the last laugh in the situation. Only time will tell if Hendrick Motorsports elects to appeal this second L-1 penalty handed down from NASCAR but if they do, it is very likely that this penalty will end with a different outcome.
With NASCAR’s dissatisfaction with the Motorsports Appeal Panel rescinding HMS’s points penalty last week, the NASCAR Rule Book was rewritten. Bob Pockrass reported on these edits via his Twitter account. As stated by him, the NASCAR Appeals Panel can now only modify and existing penalty within the rages stated in the rulebook. Therefore, if a points penalty is issued, the Appeals Panel must now keep a points penalty in place, though they do technically hold the right to change the amount/severity of it.
This is important because it’s the points, specifically owner’s points, which pays the team best by season’s end. While $100,000 might be a significant amount to a team like Kaulig Racing, to the juggernaut that is HMS, it’s closer to pocket change in comparison to what they could earn by season’s end in the final standings.
In an attempt to achieve more transparency, NASCAR has also stated that they will now allow the Motorsports Appeals Panel to release a statement as to why any given penalty was modified.
Bob Pockrass also took the time to tweet out this chart containing the various penalty ranges:
NASCAR YouTuber, JettMDK, posted the following video where he gives his own commentary about the penalties as well as the different treatment by the Motorsports Appeals Panel to a team like HMS when compared to Kaulig, who got their L-1 penalty upheld this week.
Daily Downforce partner and host of Out of the Groove was a busy man yesterday as he posted his own video (his third of the day) where he gives his own thoughts on the newly issued penalties.
DannyB, a noted HMS fan, was even frustrated with how HMS were able to wiggle out of their last L-1 penalty while Kaulig was forced to deal with theirs.
And, of course, The Icebeg had his say:
This is Hendrick Motorsports doing what HMS does best: pushing the envelope and forcing NASCAR to rewrite the rule book to close out loopholes. Will this L-1 penalty stick? Will HMS once again file for an appeal? Only time will tell. Stick around here with the Daily Downforce for the latest in this developing story.