An important conversation is about to take place. NASCAR has set the date when Hendrick Motorsports will appeal the L2-Level penalties for unapproved parts modifications.
According to a release from the sanctioning body, Hendrick Motorsports will appeal the penalties issued to all four Cup Series teams on Wednesday, March 29. NASCAR did not say which members will make up the appeals panel.
The L2-Level penalties stem from the race weekend at Phoenix Raceway. NASCAR officials confiscated hood louvers from the No. 5 Chevrolet of Kyle Larson, the No. 9 Chevrolet of Josh Berry (substitute for Chase Elliott), the No. 24 Chevrolet of William Byron, and the No. 48 Chevrolet of Alex Bowman after the practice session on March 10.
The following week, NASCAR announced penalties for the four Hendrick Motorsports teams. The penalties included the loss of 100 team and driver points, as well as the loss of 10 playoff points. The No. 9 team only lost 100 team points due to Chase Elliott sitting out multiple races due to a fractured tibia.
In addition to the points penalty, each crew chief received a $100,000 fine and a four-race suspension. All four crew chiefs have remained away from the track while Hendrick Motorsports has waited to make its appeal.
NASCAR Set Dates for 2 Other Appeals
The Hendrick Motorsports appeal will be the first of three that will draw considerable attention. It will take place before Kaulig Racing and Denny Hamlin present their own cases to the appeals panel.
Kaulig Racing, which also received L2-Level penalties for unapproved parts modifications on the No. 31 of Justin Haley, will present its case on Wednesday, April 5. The team will try to get back the 100 driver points, 100 owner points, and 10 playoff points. It will also try to overturn the $100,000 fine and four-race suspension for crew chief Trent Owens.
Kaulig Racing and Hendrick Motorsports took two different approaches after announcing the intention to appeal. The four-car team kept its crew chiefs away from the track, which will make them eligible to return in the near future even if the appeals panel upholds the original penalties.
Kaulig Racing, for comparison, requested a deferment of the four-race penalty. This meant that Owens was able to perform his normal duties at both Atlanta Motor Speedway and Circuit of the Americas. He will continue to be at the track for the trip to Richmond Raceway. Though Owens will have to serve a four-race suspension if the appeals panel upholds the original L2-Level penalties.
The Final Appeal Will Feature 1 Main Driver
The first two appeals will feature Chevrolet-affiliated teams that received L2-Level penalties after the trip to Phoenix Raceway. The third appeal will focus on a driver that controls a Toyota Camry. Denny Hamlin will appeal his own penalty on Thursday, April 6.
Hamlin, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, received a $50,000 fine and a 25-point penalty after the trip to Phoenix Raceway. The reason is that he intentionally fenced Ross Chastain on the final lap and later admitted it on an episode of his podcast, “Actions Detrimental.”
NASCAR said in a release that Hamlin violated Sections 4.4 of the Rule Book: NASCAR Member Code of Conduct. This section listed two main items: “B. Attempting to manipulate the outcome of the race or championship and wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from competition as a result. D. Actions NASCAR finds to be detrimental to stock racing or NASCAR.”
Hamlin did not initially plan to appeal the penalty after a conversation with team owner Joe Gibbs. However, the situation changed after he saw NASCAR’s reasons for issuing the penalty. He said that he had not done any of those things, which led to him deciding to ultimately appeal.