Chad Knaus raises questions about NASCAR penalty

HAMPTON, Ga. — Chad Knaus of Hendrick Motorsports reacted forcefully Friday to NASCAR’s sanctions on the organization for issues with its hood louvers. He put the blame on NASCAR and the sole-source suppliers.

NASCAR said the hood louvers on all four Hendrick cars were modified March 10 at Phoenix Raceway. Series officials took the coins after Cup practice that day.

NASCAR fined the four Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs $100,000 each and penalized Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson and William Byron 100 points and 10 playoff points each, as well as their teams and team n ° 9.

Hendrick Motorsports released a statement on Wednesday and said it was attractive. Knaus, vice president of competition, used stronger language when meeting the media Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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

Asked to explain, Knaus said: ‘We as a company, we 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 suppliers accountable to the level they need to supply us with the parts we need. It goes through NASCAR’s distribution center and NASCAR’s approval process to get those parts, and we’re not getting the right parts.

“There are so many areas we need to keep improving,” Knaus said, referring to the sport. “Again, that’s where I’m probably most disappointed is that we’ve been on this path, working collectively as a group for a while and for it to happen like this is really disappointing.”

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of NASCAR racing, said earlier this week that the hood louvers had been changed.

“It was obvious to us that these parts had been modified in an area that was not approved,” Sawyer said. “It’s a penalty consistent with what we went through last year. … We felt like keeping the garage on a level playing field and the level of competition where it needs to be, all the dialogue that went around this car last year, working with owners on what the deterrent model should be, we were put in a position where we felt there was no other way but to write a penalty.

When asked if the changes could impact downforce, Sawyer said: “We don’t normally go into intent, but I think it’s fair to say…could be the performance around these changes.”

In its statement earlier this week, Hendrick Motorsports cited “inconsistent and unclear documented communication by the sanctioning body specifically related to the louvers.”

Asked to clarify those communications, Knaus said, “We submitted a part through (Chevrolet) to NASCAR, and then NASCAR single-sourced those components.

“Components didn’t arrive as we expected for a few of the (manufacturers) as far as I know in the garage and certainly all of the Chevrolet teams, so we started talking to them (NASCAR) in early February about of these problems.

“It was us through our aero department, through (Chevrolet), back through NASCAR, back to us and back to (Chevrolet). There was a lot of communication. It is certainly confusing. The deadlines are curious but they are there.

Knaus said Hendrick Motorsports typically goes through a voluntary on-track inspection after passing the mandatory engine inspection and mandatory safety inspection shortly after the garage opens for race weekend. That’s what Hendrick cars did in Phoenix on March 10.

Knaus said Hendrick cars often go through voluntary inspection “so NASCAR has the option of saying, ‘Hey, we don’t like that’ or ‘Maybe you need to modify that’ or whatever. That’s about the standard frame rate.

Hendrick Motorsports said this week that the louvers were taken down only four hours after passing that voluntary inspection. Knaus said he doesn’t know why NASCAR didn’t do something immediately.

“It’s really confusing,” Knaus said. “We knew there was some attention to this area when we first passed the technical inspection. That’s what really disappoints me, quite honestly, is that we had plenty of time to get parts out of the car if we felt something was wrong.

“I can assure you that if we knew there would be a four hour lag and we thought something was wrong they would have been in a bin burning with fuel somewhere so no one never see them. We had no idea we were going to be sitting in this position. Really disappointed that we are in the position we are in right now.

When asked if he felt the parts were faulty or if Hendrick had modified the parts they thought were acceptable to NASCAR, Knaus said, “We have a brand new set of these parts that we can pull from the factory. ‘shelf right now that NASCAR deemed it illegal and inappropriate for us to race.

Knaus said the team was not aware of a date for his appeal.

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