NASCAR released its penalty report that nails two organizations and a veteran competitor with major penalties following this past weekend’s Cup Series event at Phoenix Raceway.
For the penalties involving two organizations, Hendrick Motorsports and Kaulig Racing were sanctioned L2-level penalties for unapproved modifications pertaining to violating Sections 18.104.22.168.A, which highlights the assembly of radiator duct, from the NASCAR Rule Book. The issue first occurred as NASCAR confiscated the hood louvers from all four Hendrick cars (No. 5 driven by Kyle Larson, No. 9 driven by Josh Berry, No. 24 driven by William Byron and No. 48 driven by Alex Bowman) and one Kaulig entry (No. 31 driven by Justin Haley) at the conclusion of last Friday’s practice session at Phoenix and prior to Sunday’s main event.
As a result, all five entries between Hendrick and Kaulig were assessed a 100-point dock towards the driver’s and owner’s standings along with the loss of 10 Playoff points. In addition, each crew chief from each entry (Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle, Blake Harris and Trent Owens) were fined $100,000 and issued a four-race suspension.
The penalties for the Hendrick organization come after William Byron piloted the No. 24 entry to his second consecutive Cup victory of this season at Phoenix. Amid the penalties, Byron along with teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman, who initially assumed the lead in the regular-season points standings, have dropped to being outside of the top 20 in the standings. As a result, Kevin Harvick assumes the lead in the regular-season standings by three points over Ross Chastain and 14 over Christopher Bell.
In terms of the penalty involving the veteran competitor, Denny Hamlin was fined $50,000 and docked 25 points following his on-track actions at Phoenix, where he made contact with Ross Chastain during the overtime attempt, a move he admitted to being intentional and deemed a violation of Sections 4.4 in the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct. The contact occurred after Hamlin drifted up the track entering Turns 1 and 2 and squeezed Chastain against the wall, which stalled their progress towards the front. Hamlin then proceeded in bumping Chastain’s rear bumper three times through the backstretch and entering Turn 3 before overtaking him. As a result, Hamlin and Chastain, both of whom were battling for potential top-five spots, fell back to 23rd and 24th in the final running order.
NASCAR also issued two-race suspensions for two crew members (Sean Cotten and Ryan Mulder) for the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang piloted by Aric Almirola for violating Sections 22.214.171.124 A&C from the NASCAR Rule Book that highlights a safety violation. This comes as a result of a wheel that came off of Almirola’s car in Turn 4 on Lap 137 of 317, where Almirola wrecked prior to losing the wheel. Following the on-track incident, Almirola was issued a two-lap penalty in his pit stall for the improper installed tire that came off on the track and ended up 33rd in the final running order.
With this past weekend’s event at Phoenix Raceway capping off a three-race West Coast swing, the NASCAR Cup Series teams and competitors travel to Atlanta Motor Speedway for their next scheduled event and for their first of two visits to the 1.5-mile speedway venue in Hampton, Georgia. The main event is scheduled to occur this Sunday, March 19, at 3 p.m. ET on FOX.