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Jeff Gordon: Confiscated parts ‘weighing on our minds’ at Hendrick Motorsports

A two-tire pit stop during a late caution pays off, giving William Byron his second consecutive win of the 2023 NASCAR Cup season at the United Rentals Work United 500.

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman Jeff Gordon says that having parts taken from all four cars Friday “was weighing on our minds coming into (Sunday) and certainly will continue.”

Gordon made the comments after Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron scored his second consecutive victory and all four Hendrick cars finished in the top 10 at Phoenix.

MORE: What drivers said at Phoenix

NASCAR took the hood louvers (air vents) from the cars of Byron, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman and Josh Berry after Friday’s practice. NASCAR also took a hood louver from the Kaulig Racing car of Justin Haley before Saturday’s qualifying.

NASCAR stated Friday that it took the Hendrick hood louvers for further evaluation this week at the R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. NASCAR stated that if there were any penalties to the team that announcement could come this week.

A concern for Hendrick Motorsports is that in this era of single-sourced parts, NASCAR has increased the penalties for modifications to those parts without prior approval granted.

Modifications to a Next Gen single-source vendor parts is an L2 penalty. Such a penalty could include some or all of the following:

  • A loss of 75 points for the driver and/or team owner
  • A loss of 10 playoff points for the driver and/or team owner
  • A four-race race suspension for particular crewmember(s)
  • A $100,000 fine

If the penalty is deemed a more severe L3 infraction for modifying a Next Gen single-sourced supplied part, the penalty could include some or all of the following:

  • A loss of 120 points for the driver and/or team owner
  • A loss of 25 playoff points for the driver and/or team owner
  • A six-race race suspension for particular crewmember(s)
  • A $250,000 fine

Gordon said Hendrick officials have been in contact with NASCAR about the hood louvers.

“We had some conversation, will continue to have conversations, with NASCAR,” Gordon said. “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.

“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.”

Even after the hood louvers were taken on Friday, Hendrick won the pole with Larson, and Byron qualified third. Larson (201 laps) and Byron (64) combined to lead 83.6 percent of the 317-lap race.

Byron’s crew chief, Rudy Fugle, credited the organization’s focus for not letting the hood louver matter disrupt their weekend preparations.

“It’s a test of mental strength,” Fugle said. That’s just what it takes to be really good in this series. We have to think about what the task is. We have to focus on this weekend. That’s what we all did.”

Gordon said that having the Hendrick cars run so well in the race showed the organization’s strength.

“These guys have speed in the car,” Gordon said. “There was nothing, not last week, not this week, that was getting them to Victory Lane other than a lot of hard work and great teamwork.”