NASCAR issued L2-Level penalties to Hendrick Motorsports on March 15, which resulted in a historic fine and four-week suspensions for all four crew chiefs. Now, Vice President of Competition Chad Knaus has responded with some strong comments.
Knaus met with media members at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 17 and spent several minutes discussing the confiscated hood louvers that led to the penalties. He said that teams are being held accountable, but the same can’t be said for the single-source vendors. Knaus also said that they could pull new parts off the shelf only to have NASCAR deem them illegal.
“It’s a terrible situation.. not only for us, but for the industry, to be quite honest with you,” Knaus said, transcript courtesy of Team Chevy. “That’s what I dislike the most –it’s ugly, we shouldn’t be in this situation and it’s really unfortunate that we are because it doesn’t help anybody.
“We as a company, we as the garage — every one of these teams are being held accountable to put their car out there to go through inspection and perform at the level that they need to. The teams are being held accountable for doing that.
“Nobody is holding the single source providers accountable at the level they need to be to give us the parts that we need. Now, that goes through NASCAR’s distribution center and NASCAR’s approval process to get those parts and we’re not getting the right parts.”
Hendrick Motorsports Mentioned Communication Issues in a Statement
The comments from Knaus follow a statement from Hendrick Motorsports in which the organization said that it would appeal the L2-Level penalties. This statement expressed disappointment in NASCAR’s decision, and it listed “documented inconsistent and unclear communication by the sanctioning body specifically related to louvers” as one of its reasons for appealing.
“Yeah, there’s been dialogue,” Knaus continued. “Like I stated, we submitted a part through the OEM to NASCAR, and then NASCAR chose the single source provider for those components. The components haven’t been coming the way that we expected them to be for a couple of the OEMs as far as I know in the garage, and definitely all of the Chevrolet teams.
“So we started to have dialogue with them in early February about those problems. So it was us through our aerodynamic department, through our OEM, back through NASCAR, back to us and back through our OEM. So there’s a significant amount of communication that’s been had. It’s definitely confusing. The timelines are curious, but they’re there.”
Knaus Also Responded To Comments From the Sanctioning Body
When the sanctioning body sent out the penalty report on March 15, there were immediate questions about the confiscated louvers and what had made them illegal. Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s Senior VP of Competition, provided NASCAR’s side during a Zoom session.
“From time to time, we’ll capture parts, we’ll bring them back,” Sawyer said on March 15. “And as we continued to investigate and look at parts and compare parts, it was obvious to us that these parts had been modified in an area that wasn’t approved.”
Sawyer continued and said that the sanctioning body doesn’t “normally get into intent.” However, he added that it “was fair to say” that the modifications to the louvers could have aerodynamic performance.
Hendrick Motorsports responded with its side at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Knaus heard the “performance” part of the comments from NASCAR, and he pointed to issues with the parts fitting according to the approved designs.
“We have a CAD that has been submitted by the OEM, and the OEM gets that CAD from NASCAR,” Knaus said during his media session two days later. “It’s NASCAR’s responsibility to make sure the parts we get fit the car. … We made sure our parts fit the hood, and the hood closed and did all the stuff that it needed to do.”
This situation between the sanctioning body and the winningest organization is not over. Hendrick Motorsports has not received a date for when it will make its appeal to the three-person panel. For now, the organization will move forward with its replacement crew chiefs while pursuing another win at Atlanta Motor Speedway.