HAMPTON, Ga. – Ahead of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon addressed recent single-source supplier parts issues and the team’s decision to appeal a NASCAR penalty in a pre-race interview on FOX.
NASCAR confiscated louvers from the team’s four cars at the beginning of the event weekend at Phoenix Raceway. The team replaced them prior to competition, and William Byron went on to win his second straight race. The sanctioning body issued penalties on Wednesday.
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"We just look at how this was handled, and it could have been handled in so many different ways from NASCAR," Gordon said. "Hendrick Motorsports prides ourselves on the precision and the detail in which we go about building our race cars. That is part of why we have been so successful over the years, but we also do it with integrity and respect for the rules and how NASCAR governs those.
"For us, it feels like it wasn’t done in (the right) way. We feel like if our integrity is going to be questioned, we are going to push back and appeal this for that reason."
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On Wednesday, Hendrick Motorsports announced its plans to appeal the decision and noted that NASCAR identified the louvers prior to any on-track activity at Phoenix.
"This was found 30 minutes before practice," Gordon said. "This was a rule that got changed on the cars at the very last minute. When the season started, we found out there was going to be this rule change aerodynamically at Phoenix (and most short ovals and road courses). A lot of communication was going back and forth on what you could and couldn’t do. It created a lot of confusion. We get to the racetrack and it’s not even a mandatory inspection day. NASCAR noticed it and didn’t say anything to the team until after that practice session."
Teams are mandated by NASCAR to use louvers from a designated single-source supplier. Gordon noted the parts provided to teams have not met the designs approved by the sanctioning body.
"The parts that we’re talking about are not up to the quality," Gordon said. “NASCAR allows teams to (modify them) just to fit (the race cars)."
Although the parts were never raced at Phoenix, Hendrick Motorsports received an L2-level penalty. Recent similar penalties were handed out following issues NASCAR found during a post-race inspection.
Gordon cited an example of no penalty being issued after the DAYTONA 500 Duel races last season when two teams were found to have made unapproved changes to a single-source supplier part.
"We actually saw a similar situation last year with some wheels where a design was put in place and a modification happened," Gordon said. "Yet, there was no penalty whatsoever, even though teams were told not to modify that part."