NASCAR Brings The Hammer Down On One Of Its Biggest Teams For Using Illegal Parts

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Hendrick Motorsports is the premier race team in the NASCAR Cup Series.

The team has won 14 Cup Series championships, including 11 combined between legends of the sport Jeff Gordon (4) and Jimmie Johnson (7).

After a difficult 2022 season that saw just one Hendrick driver, Chase Elliott, make the series’ championship race, things appeared to be looking up for the powerhouse team in 2023.

Young driver William Byron has won each of the last two races. Kyle Larson, the 2021 series champion, has been on the cusp of a pair of wins, and Alex Bowman has been one of the most consistent drivers over the first four races.

But things can change quickly in racing. And boy have they ever changed for Hendrick in the last 10 days.

Elliott, the 2020 series champion, is set to miss a number of races, which could eliminate him from the playoffs altogether, after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident.

And it only gets worse from there.

NASCAR confiscated parts from all four Hendrick teams prior to Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway. The current series rules state that teams cannot modify parts provided by the series to teams. Officials deemed that Hendrick may have run afoul of that rule.

The series confirmed those suspicions on Wednesday, and in turn handed down one of the harshest penalties in recent history.

All four teams lost 100 points each. While Bowman, Byron and Larson were each docked 100 points (Elliott was spared as he did not participate in the race) as well as 10 playoff points, which roll over through each round of the series’ postseason.

Additionally, the crew chief for all four race teams were suspended for the next four races. NASCAR also penalized the Kaulig Racing No. 31 car of Justin Haley for the same infraction.

Fans were stunned by the penalties.

But the news didn’t stop there. NASCAR also penalized Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin 25 points and fined him $50,000. Hamlin recently admitted to intentionally wrecking Ross Chastain during Sunday’s race, continuing their ongoing rivalry.

The series is back in action on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the fifth race of the 2023 season.