The NASCAR Cup Series might be off for two weeks, but Hendrick Motorsports team-mates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are still having their positions in the championship impacted. On Thursday, NASCAR announced the #9 and #48 teams have received L1-level penalties due to an error in the team’s engine allocations for last Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In particular, the violation broke Section 20.6.1e of the rulebook regarding engine assembly. Much of the rule focuses on impounding the winning car’s engine if sealed, and unsealed engines may either be impounded by NASCAR prior to the next race or have its long block sealed and inspection following the next race. If the long block is sealed, the engine cannot be moved to a different car. Sealed engines, which differ from their unsealed counterparts as components such as the engine block and pistons are frozen and cannot be changed, must be run for sixteen points races in a season.
A clerical mistake accidentally resulted in one of Elliott’s sealed engines being assigned to Bowman’s team for New Hampshire. Bowman finished the race in ninth and Elliott eighteenth.
“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,” read a statement from Hendrick Motorsports. “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.”
An L1 penalty means both teams lose twenty-five points apiece in the owner and driver standings, which drops Elliott from fifth to sixth while Bowman is still eleventh. Crew chiefs Alan Gustafson (Elliott) and Greg Ives (Bowman) each received $50,000 fines, while Hendrick general manager Jeff Andrews and engine support director Scott Maxim are suspended for the upcoming race at Watkins Glen on 8 August.