After confiscating parts from all four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets last Friday, NASCAR has completed its investigation and dropped massive penalties on the teams and crew chiefs.
The teams are down 100 points each, and all the drivers (save for Elliott/Berry in the No. 9) are down 10 playoff points. All four crew chiefs have been suspended for four races, and fined an additional $100,000.
- The 5, 9, 24, 31, and 48 were all slammed with penalties, and only the 9 drivers Chase Elliott and Josh Berry escaped the driver point deductions.
- These penalties essentially reset the season for Hendrick, with Alex Bowman going from leading the standings for the first time in his career all the way back to
the high 20’s23rd in points.
- Hendrick has been dominant so far in 2023, and fans will be eager to see if these illegal louver modifications affect their typically stellar on-track performance.
The Daily Downforce will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
The Main Characters
Hendrick Motorsports has not responded to the penalties as of this writing. As The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck points out, this is the largest team fine in NASCAR’s 75 year history.
Whether or not HMS chooses to appeal, their reaction, and the ensuing appeals process, will be closely watched.
UPDATE 1:25pm EST
Hendrick will appeal the decision, per FOX’s Bob Pockrass
SiriusXM NASCAR’s Claire B. Lang also reports that Hendrick will not request a deferral of suspensions this weekend.
NBC’s Dustin Long reports that Hendrick is “disappointed” with NASCAR’s ruling.
Hendrick Motorsports stated: “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.”
Around the Garage
So far the only driver to comment on Hendricks’ misfortune is Rajah Caruth, who illustrated his reaction to the news – and likely a lot of fan reactions – with a funny meme.
UPDATE – More drivers and crews have begun to react to the penalties.
Freddie Kraft, spotter for Bubba Wallace, celebrated the new standings.
Corey LaJoie said a lot with very little in his response.
Stewart-Haas Racing joined Freddie in playfully celebrating the new playoff outlook.
From the Officials
NASCAR issued a wave of penalties this morning, affecting not just the Hendrick and Kaulig teams, but also for Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola as well.
In the Stands
Fans were quick to react to the HMS penalties, with many understandably shocked at the severity of the punishments.
Fan Derek Yoder’s reaction, shared by many, gets straight to the point.
Some fans didn’t agree with NASCAR’s decision, and expressed an unfairness or inconsistency with the severity of the penalties.
Fan Brandon Lawson says it best –
Not everyone disagreed with the decision, as William Richard aka Opinions on NASCAR said on Twitter.
Fan Alex Bell offered his thoughts, namely that the penalties won’t be as big of a setback for HMS as it might first appear.
On Your Screen
Jett Kraus AKA MDK on YouTube emphasized the severity of the penalties…
…with Out of the Groove host Eric Estepp echoing MDK’s surprise.
Eric quickly took to his channel to give his commentary, saying “the entire complexion” of the season is now changed.
Eric later added more commentary as new details emerged throughout the afternoon.
Darian Gilliam, host of Black Flags Matter on YouTube, mourned the setback suffered by HMS.
YouTube motorsports reporter David Land kept it short and sweet with his professional analysis.
YouTuber Bologna Burger offered his own commentary on the penalties, which he termed a “serious hit” to Rick Hendrick’s pocket.
From the Pressbox
ESPN’s Ryan McGee congratulated Michael Waltrip for losing his record of NASCAR fines.
Sportsnaut’s Austin Konenski calls for an end to the NASCAR bias meme common in some corners of the fandom.
The Daily Downforce will continue following this story as it develops.