NASCAR dealt severe penalties to four of Hendrick Motorsports’ Cup Series teams, along with the No. 31 team of Kaulig Racing, on Wednesday.
The L2-level penalties were for unapproved parts modifications, specifically issues with the hood louvers (air vents), that were found on the cars last weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson and William Byron were docked 100 points and also were penalized 10 playoff points each. Crew chiefs Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle and Blake Harris were suspended four races each and also fined $100,000 each. The four Hendrick teams were penalized 100 owner points and 10 playoff points.
Bowman was the points leader in the standings prior to the penalties, but he, Larson and Bryon fell outside of the top 20 after Wednesday.
“We are disappointed with today’s decision by NASCAR to issue penalties and have elected to appeal based on a variety of facts,” Hendrick Motorsports said in a statement, per NBC Sports’ Dustin Long.
Josh Berry was not docked points because he earns points in the Xfinity Series. The 32-year-old filled in for an injured Chase Elliott, who will not be docked points because he was not driving the No. 9 car when the infraction was discovered.
Hendrick Motorsports cited “unclear communication” in its appeal attempt. It also cited “louvers provided to teams through NASCAR?s mandated single-source supplier do not match the design submitted by the manufacturer and approved by NASCAR” and “recent comparable penalties issued by NASCAR have been related to issues discovered during a post-race inspection.”
But FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass noted once a car is in a garage, NASCAR considers whether the vehicle has legal parts or not.
A date has not been set for an appeal, but Kevin Harvick emerged as a beneficiary of the penalties as he became the new points leader in the Cup Series standings.