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What Went WRONG for Hendrick Motorsports this Season?

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Josh Mull

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It’s been a year like no other for Hendrick Motorsports, one that many fans would honestly like to forget about. Even with two cars in the playoffs and a shot to win another Championship, it has been a less-than-stellar season for one of NASCAR’s top teams.

Let’s take a look at everything that has gone wrong.

Las Vegas in March: Elliott Breaks Leg Snowboarding

It all started just three weeks into the 2023 season when NASCAR’s most popular driver, Chase Elliott, fractured his tibia while snowboarding in Colorado. The 2020 Champion would go on to miss six races while he recovered. 

Phoenix in March: The Largest Penalty Handed to a Team in NASCAR History

NASCAR found an issue with the louvers Hendrick Motorsports used on all four cars in inspection at Phoenix Raceway. NASCAR confiscated the parts due to what they considered a manipulation of a single-sourced part.

They followed up by suspending all four crew chiefs, fining each team $100,000 setting the record for the largest penalty handed to a team, and docking each driver 100 points and 10 playoff points. However, Hendrick appealed the penalty and two weeks later regained the points that were previously revoked. 

Richmond in April: More Penalties 

After Kyle Larson took home the win, Alex Bowman and William Byron were the lucky contestants to go to the R&D Center. There NASCAR found an issue with the greenhouse area on both cars and handed out two more L1 Penalties that included 60 driver and owner points and 5 playoff points and their interim crew chiefs were suspended for two races. 

Dover in May: Bowman Breaks His Back

Alex Bowman fractured a vertebrae in his back during a mid-week sprint car race in West Burlington, Iowa. This led him to miss four weeks of action and did not help his case to make the 2023 playoffs following the points penalties he had previously received. 

Charlotte in May: Elliott Suspended

An on-track incident during the Coke 600 involving Chase Elliott right-hooking Denny Hamlin sending him head-on into the wall resulted in NASCAR suspending their most popular driver for one race. Hendrick Motorsports called on Corey Lajoie to come in and drive the 9 at Gateway the following week which gave Carson Hocevar the opportunity to make his Cup debut for Spire Motorsports in the 7. 

June and July were relatively quiet for the team, which after their chaotic spring their drivers and fans weren’t going to complain about. 

Daytona in August: Getting in the Playoffs

The next issue the team faced would be getting all four drivers into the playoffs. This would be impossible after Michael McDowell won the Indy Road Course and Brad Keselowski locked in on points along with Kevin Harvick.

The team headed into the Daytona cutoff race with two drivers looking in from the outside and only one spot available but only attainable by one of them getting to Victory Lane. Unfortunately, both drivers put together solid runs but neither were able to get the mission accomplished meaning that only two of the four Hendrick drivers would be in the 2023 playoffs. 

Regardless of what the next 10 races hold for HMS, it has been a less-than-ideal year for the entire organization and one they are looking to rebound from in 2024. 

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Picture of Josh Mull

Josh Mull

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