Hendrick Motorsports won’t appeal Richmond penalty, my thoughts on this process

Hendrick Motorsports announced on Monday that they’ll abide by the penalties that NASCAR set forth last week regarding their failed inspection at the R&D Center for both William Byron and Alex Bowman’s cars.

Last Thursday, each received an L-1 penalty for the cars not passing inspection at NASCAR’s R&D Center back in Concord. Both cars were the “random” cars chosen to go back to R&D for inspection. Both failed.

As a result, Byron (No. 24) and Bowman (No. 48) each lost 60 driver points and 5 playoff points. The teams also lost 60 owner points and five playoff owner points. In addition, the team’s respective crew chiefs (Brian Campe and Greg Ives) were fined $75,000 and suspended for two points events starting April 13.

The section referenced in the NASCAR Rule Book was 14.1.D Overall Assembled Vehicle Rules and 14.1.2.B Engineering Change Log. A NASCAR spokesperson confirmed that the penalty was for a modification to the greenhouse area on each car.

Before the penalties, Bowman was atop the Cup Series standings while Byron was in fourth place, 35 points behind but with two race wins to his credit this season.

HMS reviewed the infractions and chose not to go any further and will accept the punishment.

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – APRIL 02: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on April 02, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images)

Great News They Won’t Appeal

That’s a great thing because that leaves just one outstanding penalty worth discussing and that’s Kaulig appeal from their ruling last week too.

Finally, it gives the industry time to breathe because prior to that, it seems like every race we were talking about penalties. That dates back to the beginning of last year’s playoffs.

Now so, it’s over. Barring anything from Bristol, we hopefully are done with the penalty and/or drama discussion for at least a week.

Between the Coke Zero Sugar 400 (final 2022 regular season race) and the Southern 500 (1st playoff race), we talked about the rain that sparked the melee in Turn 1. After the Southern 500, it wasn’t the fact a non-playoff driver won and that it was a Richard Petty named car going to victory lane, we were talking “crappy parts” and Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.

After a weeks’ worth of off-track stories and nothing focusing on Kansas we showed up for the 2nd playoff race. Instead of a quiet week going into Bristol (3rd playoff race), you had more news geared Kyle Busch moving from JGR to RCR and what that means for Tyler Reddick and KBM. It was the 2023 schedules being released and Jeremy Clements’ Daytona win being reinstated. It was Brandon Jones moving from JGR to JRM. More about next season than this actual season itself.

After Bristol it was tires and power steering problems from the Saturday night race. There was more penalty talk about Ryan Blaney. The only thing discussed on the upcoming race at Texas was that challenges lied ahead for the race.

After Texas it was a plethora of news in just the 1st four days of the week. We were talking the Byron vs. Hamlin spat, how NASCAR missed that call, air pressures etc. We weren’t talking Talladega. Even race weekend at Talladega we were talking safety and not playoffs.

Then we went to Charlotte. It was Alex Bowman and Cody Ware being out. It was Kaulig’s 2023 plans. It was William Byron’s appeal decision.

After Charlotte was Cole Custer’s penalty for him trying to help his teammate.

The start of the third round was in Las Vegas which was overshadowed by Bubba Wallace purposely crashing Kyle Larson and as a result, getting suspended.

Homestead came and luckily didn’t have much to distract us then came Martinsville where the Hail Melon move shared the limelight with drama between Ty Gibbs and Brandon Jones from the Xfinity Series race.

Phoenix was the final race but unfortunately, Coy Gibbs tragically passed away in his sleep the night before the Cup season finale.

They just needed to get to 2023.

This season has been worse. The rough driving in the Coliseum and COTA, the Phoenix debacle from the louvers and Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain incident, the penalties and appeals from HMS, Hamlin, Kaulig and the outcomes and now another HMS penalty from Richmond. That doesn’t even mention Chase Elliott missing the last five weeks due to a snowboarding crash that broke his leg the week leading into Vegas.

Finally, a stop to this nonsense for a week. Every week it was becoming another news cycle coming out to distract you from some great on track racing. Unfortunately, it has become comical at this point.

So I’m grateful HMS has elected not to appeal.

HMS’ Wording Making A Mockery Of Intelligence

What I don’t like however is their wording that it didn’t help their performance on their car. If it didn’t, why did they touch it? I absolutely despise when teams get caught cheating and then say it had no effect on their race car. If it had no effect, then why did you touch it?

I think these two penalties are giving HMS’ success a tainted look.

This was the second time in four weeks that HMS has received a penalty. In Phoenix, their louvers were taken as all four teams received an L-2 penalty with $100k fine for each car, 100-point penalty, 10 playoff points taken away and a four-race suspension for each crew chief. They appealed and won their points back. However, another penalty has me and many others questioning on how legal their cars truly are.

Another aspect I don’t like is that they’re playing the victim card here. Byron playing the tough guy approach and being “upset” at NASCAR for their cars being taken back to the R&D Center is laughable. How are you mad about that? Feeling picked on? You should be. Show up to the track with legal cars.

The cars had parts not legal in Phoenix and you’re mad NASCAR took your cars back a few weeks later? What did you expect? This is NASCAR’s sandbox, and they can do as they please. Maybe show up with legal cars with legal parts and you won’t have to worry about a “random” inspection.

I have no qualms about what cars NASCAR chooses to take. It should be a spot check and I’d fully support NASCAR taking a pair of HMS cars back to the R&D Center every week. Let’s see how legal their cars become and see if their on track advantage remains or dips.

Then, if someone new finds more speed, take their cars back too and see if they’re playing by the rules. NASCAR wants parity and teams to play within the guidelines set forth and they’ve tried so hard to eliminate the gray areas. HMS appears to be trying to work in that gray area and they’ve been caught. Keep the foot down on them while also looking around the garage to find more.

The message needs to be sent that NASCAR isn’t going to tolerate this and this is the only way forward to police it.

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