NASCAR: Hendrick Motorsports facing major penalty?

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Hendrick Motorsports could be facing a significant penalty from NASCAR this week if it is discovered that their louvers were illegally modified.

The Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team has had a rollercoaster of a journey over the last two weeks or so. After losing Chase Elliott for roughly six weeks due to a broken tibia he suffered in a snowboarding accident, they recorded the third 1-2-3 finish in team history at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After solidifying the replacement schedule for Elliott until his return, now Hendrick Motorsports are at risk of a potential penalty from NASCAR following Sunday afternoon’s race at Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR took the louvers, which are the openings or vents in the hood that serve as a release point for ducts that transfer air out of the radiator, from each of the team’s four Chevrolets after Friday’s practice session.

NASCAR made note of a potential issue before acting, discovering it prior to practice.

All four drivers qualified on Saturday and raced on Sunday with different louvers. William Byron won the race behind the wheel of his No. 24 Chevrolet while Kyle Larson drove his No. 5 Chevrolet to a fourth place finish, Alex Bowman drove his No. 48 Chevrolet to a ninth place finish, and Elliott replacement Josh Berry drove his No. 9 Chevrolet to a 10th place finish.

They later confiscated louvers from the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet of Justin Haley as well, doing so before qualifying on Saturday. Those of A.J. Allmendinger’s No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet weren’t confiscated.

Because the louvers are among the many parts of the Next Gen car that aren’t allowed to be modified, any discovery of a modification has the potential to result in NASCAR coming down hard on the four-car organization.

Though nothing is expected to be announced about this specific situation until later this week, we saw on multiple occasions in the first season of the Next Gen era last year that NASCAR isn’t afraid to drop the hammer on teams that are found to have violated a rule.

The No. 6 team of RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski and the No. 4 team of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick were both docked 100 points after having run a race with what was deemed to be an illegally modified part, and both drivers were also docked 100 points themselves.

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If Hendrick Motorsports are found in violation, would they face a similar penalty? Would all four of their teams be penalized? Bowman, Byron, and Larson are all currently in the top five in the point standings, with Bowman leading for the first time in his career.