Knaus explains Hendrick’s position on the hood louver dispute

Chad Knaus was adamant Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway that teams don’t get single-source parts with correct specs and Hendrick Motorsports only made the changes to the hood louvers that resulted in engine penalties. team in order to adapt them.

“We made sure our parts fit the hood, and that the hood was closed and did whatever needed to be done,” said Knaus, vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports. (pictured above left, with team owner Rick Hendrick).

NASCAR confiscated the hood louvers of all four cars over Phoenix Friday weekend. Although problems were discovered beforehand, all four teams were allowed to participate in training before the blinds were taken.

The teams were penalized at the start of the week. In addition to $100,000 fines to the four crew chiefs and suspensions, teams #5, 24, and 48 were assessed 100 driver points and all four teams received 100 owner points. There was also the loss of 10 points in the playoffs.

“When we started getting parts at the start of the 2023 season, we didn’t have the parts we thought we had,” Knaus said. “Through an enormous amount of back and forth with NASCAR and the OEM and the teams, there have been discussions about whether we can clean the parts, not clean the parts and that changes, quite honestly, both So it’s been difficult for us to navigate, and we’ll have to see what happens when we get through the call.

Hendrick Motorsports has not requested a postponement of the suspensions, and all four crew chiefs are not on track this weekend. Without an appeal date, no decision has been made on whether the organization will continue to ask Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle and Blake Harris to serve these suspensions in the future.

In a statement released after the sanction, Hendrick Motorsports said the louvers were taken down four hours after the inspection without notice.

“It’s really confusing,” Knaus said. “We knew there was some attention to the area when we first went through technical inspection, and that’s what really, quite honestly disappoints me. We had plenty of time to remove these parts from the room if we felt there was something wrong. I can assure you that if we knew there would be a four hour time lag and we thought something was wrong they would have been in a dumpster burning with fuel somewhere where no one would see them Never. We had no idea we were sitting in this position. So again, really disappointing, we’re in the position we’re in right now.

NASCAR expects cars to be legal when they show up on the track. However, Knaus said for a voluntary inspection he did not understand the severity of a post-race penalty, as with RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports last year.

“Again, from my perspective, I think it’s different,” Knaus said. “A voluntary inspection, I don’t understand why you’d be hanged and quartered for a voluntary inspection where you’d usually be told, ‘Hey, you need to go work on this’ or, ‘Hey, we need to discuss what’s going on. pass here.

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of NASCAR competition, said officials are working with teams to make sure parts and parts fit properly. However, Sawyer said the Hendrick Motorsports louvers were modified beyond that level.

Even with all the back and forth, Hendrick Motorsports’ statement said there was inconsistent and unclear communication from NASCAR.

“We submitted a part through the OEM to NASCAR and NASCAR single-sourced those components,” Knaus said. “Components didn’t arrive as we expected for a few OEMs, as far as I know, in the garage, and certainly all of the Chevrolet teams.

“We started a dialogue with them in early February on these issues. So it was us through our aero departments, through our OEM, through NASCAR, through us and through our OEMs. So there’s been a lot of communication and it’s definitely confusing. The timelines are curious, but they are there.

When asked if he thought the parts were faulty or if they had modified the parts to be acceptable to NASCAR standards, Knaus said, “I can tell you this, we have a whole new set of these parts that we can pull off the shelf at this time which NASCAR has deemed illegal and unsuitable for racing.

Knaus denied that Hendrick Motorsports learned anything from the Garage 56 program to apply to its Cup Series cars. With a different engine and cooling package, Knaus said nothing translates.

Alex Bowman went from one point lead to 23rd in the standings with 10 negative points in the playoffs. William Byron is down to 29th and has three playoff points, dropping all 10 of his wins at Las Vegas and Phoenix Raceway. Kyle Larson is 32nd in the standings with nine negative points in the playoffs.

Knaus said every part of the penalty was severe.

“I think it’s a terrible situation not only for us but for the industry, to be completely honest with you. I think that’s what I hate the most. It’s ugly. We shouldn’t be in this situation and it’s a shame because it doesn’t help anyone.

“We as a company and us in the garage, each of these teams here are held accountable to put their car out there to pass inspection and perform to the level they need to. Teams are held accountable for this. No one is holding sole-sources accountable to the level they need to supply us with the parts we need. Now it goes through NASCAR’s distribution center and NASCAR’s approval process to get those parts, and we’re not getting the right parts.

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