NASCAR has its third different points leader in three days

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The NASCAR Cup Series point standings have once again changed mid-week, this time by an appeals panel rescinding penalties that were issued two weeks ago.

A NASCAR appeals panel rescinded the 100-point and 10-playoff point penalties that were issued to the four Hendrick Motorsports teams — and three of the team’s drivers — following the race at Phoenix Raceway two and a half weeks ago, though the four-race crew chief suspensions and $100,000 fines for each team were upheld.

These penalties were issued after it was discovered that the hood louvers on each of the team’s four Chevrolets had been illegally modified at Phoenix Raceway.

Hendrick Motorsports were reportedly in constant communication with NASCAR regarding the single-source vendor-supplied part, which they did not use in qualifying or the race that weekend.

As a result of the panel’s decision, Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman is the new points leader, and he is the third different leader of the point standings in three days.

Team Penske’s Joey Logano led the standings heading into this past Sunday’s race at Circuit of the Americas, but Trackhouse Racing Team’s Ross Chastain jumped back to the top with his fourth place finish. Following the panel’s decision, Bowman is back on top by 15 points over Chastain. He had been sitting in 16th.

This strangely marks the second time in the last two weeks that the NASCAR Cup Series has seen three different points leaders in three days.

Chastain led the standings heading into the race at Phoenix Raceway before Bowman took the lead with a ninth place finish (and Chastain’s overtime run-in with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin).

But it was just after Bowman took the points lead for the first time in his Cup Series career when NASCAR handed him and teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson 100-point penalties, which ultimately handed the lead to Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick.

In addition to Bowman reclaiming the lead with the penalties overturned, Byron jumped from 22nd place to third, and Larson jumped from a 27th place tie to ninth.

Chase Elliott was never affected by the penalty, since he has been sidelined with a fractured left tibia for the last four races. His No. 9 team, however, was, since the No. 9 Chevrolet continues to compete, and they have been given back 100 points and 10 playoff points as well.

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Kaulig Racing’s appeal of the same penalties to the No. 31 team and Justin Haley is set for next week. Their 100-point penalties have them currently sitting in negative point territory (-7) in the owner standings and driver standings through six races.