In the wake of a recent run of penalties handed out to several drivers and teams, including Hamlin himself, he was furious about NASCAR making up the regulations as they desired.
A little more than a week after an appeals panel overturned the points element of the sanctions imposed on the four Hendrick Motorsports teams and their three currently employed full-time drivers, NASCAR docked teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman 60 points each for a different infraction.
Following an unusually long wait, the No. 48 Chevrolet and the No. 24 Chevrolet were both determined to have violated a “greenhouse infraction” after being transferred to the R&D Center following the race at Richmond Raceway on Sunday afternoon.
There is a sense that NASCAR is on a mission and trying to make an example out of the dominant organization, even though the sanctioning body would never go so far as to admit that they were trying to make a point by seizing two Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets.
This can be regarded as a common assumption given the obvious rage from the organization over the revocation of their hood louver points penalties.
However leaving speculative thoughts aside, NASCAR even went a little further and amended the rulebook to ensure that teams that appeal points penalties would not have their points penalty eliminated unless they are determined to have committed no violations at all.
In order to provide some frame of reference, it should be noted that the appeals panel that decided the previous Hendrick Motorsports case found that a violation had been committed. They also determined that the points penalties assessed to the individual drivers and teams were excessive and unrepresentative of the infraction itself, which was a fair conclusion given the nature of the infraction.
Denny Hamlin was unimpressed with the revisions and criticized NASCAR for making up the rules as they go after his appeal resulted in the upholding of his 25-point penalty and $50,000 fine for admitting to purposely walling Ross Chastain at Phoenix Race track.
These rule changes only apply to future penalties that are ultimately upheld on appeal, despite the fact that it appears as though NASCAR is making up the regulations as they go (because, let’s be honest, they essentially are).
For instance, since the penalties were previously imposed before NASCAR revised the rules of the game, these standards were not used in the decision to uphold Hamlin’s penalty, and they would not be used if Hendrick Motorsports decided to challenge their most recent penalties.
However, in the event that Hendrick Motorsports appeals and a tribunal decides to make another adjustment, the most recent point penalties assessed to Bowman and Byron might still be entirely overturned.
It’s also important to note that Kaulig Racing recently contested a penalty involving hood louvers and only saw a portion of the original penalty reversed, with Justin Haley receiving 25 of the original penalty’s 100 points.
Yet, NASCAR went ahead and made this adjustment after the team indicated that they intended to present the outcome of their appeal to the final appeals officer, so the modification was in fact made throughout the appeal process.
Most people, however, won’t be happy about NASCAR’s decision to give themselves more authority, especially given the fact that they have been continuously changing the point standings for the better part of the last few weeks and have now handed out eight point penalties in the past month alone.
There is little reason to think that they did so for anything other than resentment that their previous point sanctions to Hendrick Motorsports were not sustained. They have essentially removed a crucial aspect of checks and balances from teams that feel they may have been victimized.
The narrative is furthered by the fact that they picked two Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets to bring to the R&D Center only days later and that, after an unusually long wait, they discovered an infraction that very few people had ever heard of.