Hendrick Motorsports executives announce they will appeal NASCAR penalty

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
4 min readMar 18, 2023

17 March 2023
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

HAMPTON, GA — Today at a rainy Atlanta Motor Speedway Hendrick Motorsports team president and general manager Jeff Andrews and vice president of competition Chad Knaus addressed the recent penalties from NASCAR, the team’s position the parts in question, and why they are appealing the penalty.

Vice President of Competition Chad Knaus discussed the recent penalties handed down from NASCAR (Image: Hendrick Motorsports)

Hendrick Motorsports will be appealing penalties handed down from NASCAR following the race weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

A statement from the team read: “On Friday at Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR identified louvers on our race cars during a voluntary inspection 35 minutes after the opening of the garage and prior to on-track activity. NASCAR took possession of the parts approximately four hours later with no prior communication. The situation had no bearing on Saturday’s qualifying session or Sunday’s race.”

The statement cited several facts that include:

  • Louvers provided to teams through NASCAR’s mandated single-source supplier do not match the design submitted by the manufacturer and approved by NASCAR
  • Documented inconsistent and unclear communication by the sanctioning body specifically related to louvers
  • Recent comparable penalties issued by NASCAR have been related to issues discovered during a post-race inspection

For the March 19 NASCAR Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has elected not to request deferral of personnel suspensions, citing a strategic decision. Atlanta is now a drafting track and a superspeedway-style race.

For this weekend’s race at Atlanta, Kevin Meendering (№5), Tom Gray (№9), Brian Campe (№24) and Greg Ives (№48) will fill in as crew chiefs. Meendering and Ives have a wide range of experience as crew chiefs and currently lead the organization’s NASCAR Xfinity Series efforts. Gray, the former lead engineer on the №9, will be serving as a crew chief in the Cup Series for the first time. Campe, Hendrick Motorsports’ technical director, has experience as a Xfinity Series crew chief, but Atlanta will also be his first Cup Series race atop the pit box.

Today Knaus and Andrews addressed their perspective that the louvers provided to teams through NASCAR’s mandated single-source supplier do not match the design submitted by the manufacturer and NASCAR.

“We in the garage — every one of these teams here are being held accountable to put their car out there to go through inspection and perform at the level they need to,” Knaus said to reporters Friday at Atlanta. “The teams are being held accountable for doing that. Nobody is holding the single source providers accountable at the level that they need to be to give us the parts that we need. That goes through NASCAR’s distribution center and NASCAR’s approval process to get those parts and we are not getting the right parts.

“There’s so many areas that we have to continue to improve upon. That’s where I am probably the most disappointed. We are going down this path, working collectively as a group for quite some time and for this to pop up like this is really disappointing.”

In the team’s statement announcing its plans to appeal the penalty, Hendrick Motorsports said, “NASCAR identified louvers on our race cars during a voluntary inspection 35 minutes after the opening of the garage and prior to on-track activity. NASCAR took possession of the parts approximately four hours later with no prior communication. The situation had no bearing on Saturday’s qualifying session or Sunday’s race.”

The penalties assessed by NASCAR are a loss of 100 points in the driver and owner standings for each team, a fine of $100,000 to each team, a loss of 10 playoff points to each driver and team and four-race suspensions for each crew chief.

“We shouldn’t be in this situation and it is really unfortunate that we are because it doesn’t help anybody,” Knaus said of the penalties.

The seven-time championship-winning crew chief shared that the team typically puts its cars in for voluntary inspection.

“I don’t understand why you would be hung and quartered for a voluntary inspection thing that typically you would be told, ‘hey, you need to go work on that or hey, we need to discuss what is going on,’” Knaus said.

According to HMS, the lag time between the voluntary inspection and when the parts were taken was also something that has contributed to more questions.

“It is really confusing,” Knaus said. “We knew that there was some attention to that area when we first went through technical inspection and that is what is really disappointing to me quite honestly, is that we had plenty of time to get those parts off the car if we felt like there was something wrong.”

The severity of the penalty for something found in a voluntary inspection being the same as something found in post-race inspection during the Next Gen era was something Andrews touched on in his comments.

“If you look back at 2022 and the L2 penalties that were handed out, all of those were post-race inspection penalties,” Andrews said. “There was not a L2-level penalty handed out in 2022 during a pre-race or at that point even a pre-inspection where a part taken and a penalty issued.”

The organization made the strategic decision to not request a deferral of personnel suspensions since Atlanta is now a drafting track and a superspeedway-style race. An appeal date has not yet been set.

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association