Jeff Gordon: Confiscated parts ‘weighing on our minds’ at Hendrick Motorsports Winners and losers at Phoenix Raceway Time runs out on Kevin Harvick after four-tire pit call What drivers said at Phoenix Raceway NASCAR Cup Series results: William Byron wins at Phoenix
Avondale, Arizona. Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon says that the removal of parts from all four cars on Friday was “pressing on our minds (Sunday) and will certainly continue.”
Gordon made the comment after Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron took his second win in a row and all four Hendrick cars finished in the top 10 in Phoenix.
MORE: What Drivers Said in Phoenix
NASCAR took the hood shutters (fans) from Byron’s cars, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman And Josh Berry after Friday workout. NASCAR also took the hood louvres from the Kaulig Racing race car. Justin Hailey before Saturday qualifying.
NASCAR said Friday that the Hendrick hood louvres underwent additional evaluation this week at the Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. NASCAR said that if the team is penalized, the announcement could be made this week.
Hendrick Motorsports is worried that in the era of single-source parts, NASCAR has tightened the penalties for modifications to these parts without prior authorization.
Making changes to vendor details from a single Next Gen source is an L2 penalty. Such penalty may include some or all of the following:
- Loss of 75 points by driver and/or team owner.
- Loss of 10 playoff points for driver and/or team owner.
- Suspension from four races for a specific crew member(s).
- $100,000 fine
If a penalty is considered a more serious L3 violation for modifying a Single Source Next Gen component, the penalty may include some or all of the following:
- Loss of 120 points by driver and/or team owner.
- Loss of 25 playoff points for driver and/or team owner.
- Six race suspension for the specified crew member(s).
- $250,000 fine
Gordon said Hendrick officials contacted NASCAR about the hood shutters.
“We had a conversation and will have a conversation with NASCAR,” Gordon said. “Every situation is unique in some way, but this one is more unique than I’ve ever seen when there was a lot of communication back and forth on this particular part, especially for this race track because they did an evenness test in a wind tunnel.
“I think it really opened the door for some misunderstandings. I don’t want to go beyond that. We will continue to just share all the facts and be transparent with NASCAR, as we have done so far.”
Even after the hood blinds were removed on Friday, Hendrik won pole with Larson, with Byron qualifying third. Larson (201 laps) and Byron (64) together led 83.6% of the race out of 317 laps.
Byron’s crew chief, Rudy Fugle, praised the organization for not letting the hood blinds disrupt their weekend preparations.
“This is a test of fortitude,” Fugl said. It’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 Hendrick’s cars performed so well in the race showed the strength of the organization.
“These guys have speed in the car,” Gordon said. “There was nothing last week or this week that could take them to Pobedny Lane other than hard work and great teamwork.”
Here’s a look at the winners and losers of Sunday’s Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway:
Hendrik Motorsports William Byron won the race by 64 laps. Kyle Larson was second, leading 201. Alex Bowman was ninth and Josh Berryworks well as a replacement for the wounded Chase Elliottfinished in 10th place, giving Hendrick’s team four places in the top 10.
Tyler Reddick “After a rocky start to the season, Reddick struggled forward in the final miles and had a chance to win in overtime. He finished third.
Kevin Harvick Harvick, who practically owns Phoenix Raceway with nine career wins, was leading 35 laps and was on his way to victory until warnings hit the finish line.
Harrison Burton – Burton finished penultimate after his crash late in the race caused a warning and ruined the finish. He had a tough start finishing 26th, 15th, 26th and 35th.
Aric Almirola – Almirola’s Ford had a wheel blown out, resulting in a two-lap penalty and 33rd place. The other three Stewart-Haas riders finished in the top 12.
Austin Sindrik — Sindrik had a tough day, he jumped in the second group after a speeding ticket on the pit road and finished in 25th place.
Avondale, Arizona. William Byron celebrated with his crew in Victory Lane as Rodney Childers, Chief of the Brigade Kevin Harvickwalked with a team member down the career road.
As they passed, a security worker lamented Childers’ call to the pit before the overtime didn’t work.
MORE: Jeff Gordon says confiscated parts ‘burden us’ at HMS
Harvick entered pit road as the leader on lap 305 of the 317 lap race. Childers called for four wheels to be replaced.
Six cars, including Byron, changed only two tires and restarted ahead of Harvick. Even when the subsequent caution sent the race into overtime, it didn’t give Harvick enough time to get back into the lead. He finished fifth.
“I think everyone who knows us from car #4 is sure we are definitely better on four tires,” Childers told NBC Sports. “Honestly, I didn’t really enjoy winning with two (tires). We changed two tires here several times (late) and lost more than we won.
“But I looked down and thought we were going back to green with seven (laps) to go, and then we all pitted cautiously four laps, waiting for it to be green-white-checkered. I thought it was complete (expletive).
“If this is what we are going to do, we need to tell everyone what we are going to do, instead of just letting everyone walk in the pit lanes and then ride like this. We had a really nice car all weekend. We didn’t really change anything all weekend. I should have, I could have won.”
Harvick said Childers made the right choice.
“That’s what I would do,” Harvick said. “I would always prefer to be on the attack. I just didn’t get a couple of cars when the first warning came out. Kind of lost our chance. Still thought I had a chance there at the end. These cars were a little slower. They all get stuck. The way it is. Just smoked them before the warning.
Although the focus was on Hendrick Motorsports cars this weekend, Childers said he thinks Harvick has the best car. Childers attributed this to being in the simulator three times for the event and finding “something we liked”.
Hendrick’s teams noticed Harvick’s speed.
“We did all our comparisons with (Harvick) and (Kyle Larson) … we watched,” said Rudy Fugle, Byron’s crew chief.
“I just felt it was going to be a (Harvick’s) race, right? You look at that long green-flag run on stage three with no downforce, a bunch of off-road riders, a bottom-turning Harvick, and a disciplined William. A discipline for running and feeling good, which Kevin excels in.”
Despite the team not taking the win, Harvick finished in the top 10 in each of the three West Coast races, finishing fifth at Auto Club Speedway, ninth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and fifth at Phoenix. The only other driver to finish in the top 10 in all three West Coast races was Alex Bowman.
“We had a great weekend,” Childers said. “Other tracks, I don’t think anything we would do would be with (Byron and Larson) in Vegas. We definitely have some work to do, but these (short) tracks were our bread and butter last year.”
It didn’t work out badly in the end. Definitely didn’t need to be so careful. Really fast car…