Competition officials announced on Thursday, July 22, a pair of L1-level penalties to two Hendrick Motorsports teams. NASCAR issued a statement saying that the No. 9 team of Chase Elliott and the No. 48 team of Alex Bowman committed engine-allocation infractions at the most recent Cup Series race.
According to a press release from the sanctioning body, the two teams violated Section 20.6.1.e in the NASCAR Rule Book, which focuses on engine assembly. “When the long block is sealed, the engine must be used in the same vehicle number the next time it is used,” the release stated.
Both teams received multiple forms of punishment. NASCAR competition officials docked each team 25 points in the driver and owner standings. Elliott’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, and Bowman’s crew chief, Greg Ives, each received fines of $50,000. Finally, NASCAR suspended Hendrick Motorsports executive vice president and general manager Jeff Andrews and director of track engine support Scott Maxim for the race at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 8.
Hendrick Motorsports Provided Information About the Infraction
When NASCAR issued the penalties, the organization opted to not provide in-depth details about the exact infraction. Hendrick Motorsports, on the other hand, issued a statement providing clarification.
“Due to an administrative error, one of our sealed engines assigned to the No. 9 car was unintentionally allocated to our No. 48 team at New Hampshire Motor Speedway,” the statement said. “Although the engine passed technical inspection and absolutely no competitive advantage was gained, we acknowledge NASCAR’s process was not followed correctly in this instance. The rules regarding the assignment of sealed engines are clear, and we understand and respect their decision to issue a penalty. We apologize for the mistake and have taken steps to ensure it will not be repeated.”
Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass provided further clarification, explaining that teams must run 16 races with a sealed engine used in a previous race. The term “sealed engine” means that they are unable to change the engine block, crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rods, pistons, oil pan, cylinder heads, and valves. Pockrass also noted that the sealed engine does not have to go in the same car number unless it previously won a race.
The engine mistakenly allocated to the No. 48 team was out of Elliott’s No. 9, which reached Victory Lane. Though there was no clarification about whether the engine was from Circuit of the Americas or Road America.
The Two Drivers Remain Well Above the Cut Line
While Elliott and Bowman both received 25-point penalties for the infraction, they remain well above the cut line and in the playoffs. Elliott dropped from fifth to sixth overall while Bowman maintained his hold on 11th.
Of course, both drivers have secure spots in the playoffs due to their past performances. Elliott has two wins in the 2021 season, ensuring that he will defend his 2020 championship run. Bowman, on the other hand, has three trips to Victory Lane. He captured wins at Richmond (April 18), Dover (May 16), and Pocono (June 26).
With four races remaining in the regular season, Elliott and Bowman will only bolster their spots in the playoff standings. The driver of the No. 9, in particular, will enter the Aug. 8 race at Watkins Glen as one of the favorites to win due to his two road course victories in 2021 and his previous successes.
READ NEXT: Kyle Busch Celebrates NASCAR Break Twerking in the Bahamas