NASCAR to rule on attainable Team Hendrick penalties, different matters

AVONDALE, Ariz. — From attainable penalties to the size of the restart zone to windshield wipers, NASCAR appears to have loads of choices to make over the subsequent a number of weeks.

The first will probably be on whether or not to penalize the Hendrick Motorsports groups after NASCAR confiscated their louvers after observe Friday. They additionally confiscated the louvers of Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley on Saturday.

Louvers are radiator duct coverings that direct air circulation over the hood. With new hoods this yr, there have been points with the louvers — items which are supplied to groups and supposed for use as is — becoming and assembly all specs.

NASCAR had instructed groups that they can not modify the louvers, that new (and assuming improved) ones will probably be issued quickly. The query is whether or not the Hendrick groups made any unlawful modifications. 

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“Every situation is sort of unique, but this is a more unique one than I’ve seen in a while where there’s been a lot of communication back and forth on this particular part, especially for this racetrack because they did a parity test in the wind tunnel,” Hendrick vice chairman Jeff Gordon mentioned.

“I think it really opened up the door for some miscommunication. I don’t want to go any further than that. We’ll continue to just share all the facts and be transparent with NASCAR as we have been so far.”

Fast Thoughts with Bob Pockrass

Fast Thoughts with Bob Pockrass

FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass spoke on William Byron’s win at United Rentals Work United 500 and if Team Hendrick will face penalties for a louvers subject.

NASCAR officers would not touch upon the difficulty as they may take the items to their analysis middle for extra evaluation. Any penalties would come Tuesday or Wednesday.

Last yr, NASCAR penalized three groups 100 factors, $100,000 and suspended crew chiefs for 4 races for modifying items which are supposed for use as is from the provider. Playoff factors additionally might be a part of the potential penalty.

“I don’t know anything about a race car anyways so I had to ask what a louver was,” Hendrick driver Kyle Larson mentioned. “I’m joking a bit of bit. Yeah, you are concerned about potential penalties, I suppose.

“I do not know what was mistaken with them. That’s not a part of my job. We’ll see how [the] subsequent week goes.”

If Hendrick is penalized, it is likely the team would appeal, which would defer any suspensions until the appeal is heard.

Rules enforcement and rules implementation are the product of constant communications between NASCAR and the teams, and it has appeared in the past year, with drivers as well. NASCAR has cited communications with drivers as reasons for some rules changes it implemented at the start of the season.

One of those was the change to the restart zone, which is now 50% longer at each track. The zone was expanded 25% from both the starting point and finishing point.

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The leader must mash the gas in the restart zone, and the rest of the field cannot mash the gas before the leader or they will be penalized. If the leader reaches the end of the zone and hasn’t accelerated, then the flagman waves the green and everyone can go.

Some blame the bigger restart zone for a pileup at Fontana last month when drivers tried to leave space between them and the car ahead in hopes of getting a good run and momentum to make a pass.

NASCAR is expected to make a decision after the Cup race next week at Atlanta on whether to continue using the expanded zone. There are mixed feelings about it.

“All it is carried out is trigger that wreck at California, so for my part it is carried out nothing completely different, nothing on the optimistic finish,” Kyle Busch said. “It’s solely added a damaging finish to it as a result of at California, Joey [Logano] was simply sustaining his pace and everybody was gaining, gaining, gaining, gaining and shutting up their gaps as a result of they have been all attempting to put again after which time the run.

“So he just waited for everybody to run into everybody and then went at the end of the zone.”

Kyle Busch on the larger restart zone

Kyle Busch on the bigger restart zone

Kyle Busch mentioned the larger restart zone has had a damaging affect on the races and he was by no means a fan of it from the beginning.

Tyler Reddick, who was caught up within the Fontana wreck, mentioned he did not suppose the expanded zone had something to do with the accident.

“That crash had nothing to do with the length of the restart zone,” he mentioned. “It was simply the gamesmanship that was happening.

“Whether the restart zone was one other 100 ft longer or 200 ft shorter, the identical factor that occurred there would have occurred in any restart zone.”

Those video games may power NASCAR to need to penalize drivers for laying again.

“You get to the start-finish line, [those laying back] have an easy alternative to place you three- or four-wide within the center and then you definately pay that value for not taking part in their recreation,” mentioned Chris Buescher.

“It’s a slope and a slippery one at that. As quickly as one or two vehicles begin doing it and all people sees it, it turns into vital for everyone else to do it to have the ability to defend.”

Larson, who was the leader for several restarts Sunday at Phoenix, likes the expanded zone.

“It’s a superb factor for certain, particularly a observe like this the place you may get higher launches,” he said. “Typically the longer the zone is, the extra benefit it helps the chief.

“You’re less predictable.”

It will probably be attention-grabbing to see how NASCAR reacts to driver enter on how the restart zone is being acquired. In latest weeks, the group has taken driver ideas and made some last-minute adjustments:

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–On Sunday morning at Phoenix, NASCAR ordered the groups to take away the windshield wipers from the vehicles. NASCAR had required them as a result of Phoenix is a observe the place they probably may race in damp circumstances. But with a sunny day and driver enter saying it seems to be foolish to have them, NASCAR had groups take away them Sunday.

Whether NASCAR requires windshield wipers to be on the automotive for upcoming races at Circuit of the Americas, Richmond and Martinsville stays to be seen.

–NASCAR additionally has moved the pit-road dedication line at Atlanta to Turn 3. Drivers have been involved that attempting to dive to pit street from Turn 4 whereas racing underneath inexperienced can be a harmful state of affairs. There have been no green-flag pit stops final yr.

William Byron on NASCAR shifting the pit street at Atlanta

William Byron on NASCAR moving the pit road at Atlanta

NASCAR has moved the pit street dedication line at Atlanta to the tip of the backstretch in Turn 3. Last yr’s winner William Byron explains why he thinks it is a good transfer.

–The solely races that did not have the select rule the place drivers get to decide on their lane for the restart have been street programs — till NASCAR introduced Thursday that each one street programs will now have the rule. This would require NASCAR to make use of a digicam on the select space as a result of it will not be close by of race management as it’s on ovals.

NASCAR for certain will probably be speaking to drivers concerning the new aerodynamic package deal used at Phoenix and scheduled for use at a number of brief tracks and all street programs this yr.

Drivers did lose grip and needed to make choices to pit primarily based on tire put on at Phoenix, however the race wasn’t as dicey as some doubtless had hoped.

“There’s still some work to do there with something going on with how tight they get in traffic,” mentioned race winner William Byron. “They were certainly hard to drive. I think that’s a good test to see who is the best out there.”

Ryan Blaney mentioned it’s exhausting to foretell how the package deal will probably be at upcoming races, that one race is simply too small a pattern measurement to decide.

“It’s hard to tell,” Blaney mentioned. “I hope it’s better. I really do. I think it will be better at Martinsville, kind of a slower track. Richmond I could see it maybe being a little better.”

Thinking Out Loud

Some will say that Rodney Childers giving his driver, Kevin Harvick, 4 tires on the finish of the Phoenix race was the mistaken transfer as he restarted seventh behind six drivers who had simply two contemporary tires.

Harvick mentioned that is the transfer he would have carried out. And he is not mendacity.

Harvick is a driver who likes 4 contemporary tires. As he mentioned, he likes to be on offense. And perhaps extra importantly, a crew chief has to know what a driver has confidence in — and Harvick has confidence in 4 contemporary tires.

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“That’s the way it goes”

"That's the way it goes"

Kevin Harvick spoke on the late-race warning that brought about him to lose his lead and place fifth.

Putting on two tires would have simply sowed a bit of doubt in Harvick’s thoughts. Plus Kyle Larson had a terrific short-run automotive (and clearly William Byron had a stable automotive for restarts). And Tyler Reddick seemed to be in place to make a transfer for the win with 4 contemporary tires and simply did not make it occur.

It’s simple to say it was the mistaken name as a result of Harvick did not win. But it was nonetheless the precise one.

In The News

Among the information of the previous week:

–The race at Circuit of the Americas in two weeks may have a world aptitude: Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula 1 champion, will return to Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 automotive, which he drove at Watkins Glen final yr. The 2009 F1 champion, Jenson Button, will drive the Rick Ware Racing No. 15, which will probably be ready by Stewart-Haas. 

–Chase Elliott’s restoration interval for his damaged left tibia will probably be roughly six weeks. Josh Berry continues to exchange him for all of the ovals whereas road-racing standout Jordan Taylor will drive the No. 9 automotive at COTA.

–Kaulig Racing will subject a 3rd automotive on the Bristol dust race for dust late mannequin star Jonathan Davenport.

–NASCAR carried out a muffler check Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s street course. William Byron, Christopher Bell and Ryan Preece took half within the check, which included two muffler configurations in addition to a number of tire configurations examined.

–Hendrick Motorsports introduced that it will subject a automotive in 4 Xfinity races: COTA for William Byron, Sonoma for Kyle Larson, Watkins Glen for Alex Bowman and Darlington in September with Larson. Greg Ives and Kevin Meendering, each former Cup crew chiefs, will oversee the hassle.

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Stat of the Day

Sammy Smith — at 18 years, 9 months, 7 days — grew to become the fourth-youngest-winning driver in Xfinity Series historical past along with his win at Phoenix. He ranks behind Joey Logano (18-0-21), Chase Elliott (18-4-7) and Ty Gibbs (18-4-16).

They Said It

“Week in and week out, we see it. We have four capable drivers, four capable teams. That’s amazing.” —Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent many years protecting motorsports, together with the previous 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene journal and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and join the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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