Gordon talks louvers on their minds heading to Sunday, opens up about what happened and why they’ll continue talking to NASCAR about it

Louvers were the talk of the weekend. Hendrick Motorsports saw all four cars get theirs confiscated on Friday before practice. It sent shockwaves through the garage. Was HMS doing something illegal? It was certainly on their minds heading into Sunday’s fourth race of the 2023 season at the Phoenix Raceway. I mean, how could it not.

NASCAR won’t announce penalties until Tuesday or Wednesday, but if they find HMS violated the rules, it could merit an L2 penalty which would be:

  • A loss of 75 points for the driver and/or team owner
  • A loss of 10 playoff points for the driver and/or team owner
  • A four-race race suspension for particular crewmember(s)
  • A $100,000 fine

It could even be more severe with a potential L3 penalty for modifying a Next Gen single-sourced supplied part. This penalty is even worse.

  • A loss of 120 points for the driver and/or team owner
  • A loss of 25 playoff points for the driver and/or team owner
  • A six-race race suspension for particular crewmember(s)
  • A $250,00 fine

After the start to the season that HMS is having, one could think that the louvers are the cause of this. They swept the front row for the Daytona 500. Chase Elliott finished runner-up a week later in Fontana. They went 1-2-3 not only in both stages in Vegas, but 1-2-3 in the race too. They now just went 1-2 in both stages in Phoenix and 1-4 in the end.

Was this a byproduct of illegal louvers? It had their attention going into Sunday.

“I can tell you it was weighing on all of our minds coming into today,” Jeff Gordon admitted on Sunday evening. “Certainly will continue.”

Gordon says that they’ve talked to NASCAR and will continue to do so moving forward too. He says this whole situation could have been a misunderstanding.

“Every situation is sort of unique, but this is a more unique one than I’ve seen in a while where there’s been a lot of communication back and forth on this particular part, especially for this racetrack because they did a parity test in the wind tunnel,” he continued.

“I think it really opened up the door for some miscommunication. I don’t want to go any further than that. We’ll continue to just share all the facts and be transparent with NASCAR as we have been so far.”

The thing is, HMS also made a statement on Sunday that louvers or not, they didn’t affect their pace. They went 1-3 in practice, 1-3 in qualifying and 1-4 in the race for which they led 265 of 317 laps.

“I think that really solidified some of the hype and things that were being focused on on Friday,” Gordon said. “These guys have speed in the car. There was nothing, not last week, not this week, that was getting them to Victory Lane other than a lot of hard work and great teamwork.”

William Byron’s crew chief, Rudy Fugle, said it was all about a test of mental strength to get through this noise this weekend.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s a test of mental strength. That’s just what it takes to be really good in this series. We have to think about what the task is. We have to focus on this weekend. That’s what we all did.”

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