William Byron not only seemed unfazed by the L2 level penalty his Hendrick Motorsports team incurred this week but said he was looking forward to the appeal process.
“I can’t say the details of the penalty, of what goes on there, but certainly, I’m excited for the appeal and everything that comes with that,” Byron said Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “(We’re) just ready for this weekend. We’ve got more to prove and we’ll just keep going.
“It’s good to get two (wins) in a row the last couple of weeks. I feel like we’re on a good roll and this is a really good racetrack for us. We won here last year. I was looking forward to hearing Chad’s (Knaus) comments yesterday, and all that was good. So, looking forward to the appeal.”
All four Hendrick Motorsports teams were docked 100 points and 10 playoff points after NASCAR officials confiscated the louvers off their Chevrolets after Friday practice last weekend at Phoenix Raceway. Earlier this week, officials deemed the louvers had been modified beyond the level of trying to make the parts fit correctly.
Byron, Alex Bowman, and Kyle Larson also lost 100 driver points. The four Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs were suspended for the next four NASCAR Cup Series races and also fined $100,000 each.
Friday at Atlanta, Knaus said teams are not receiving parts to the correct specifications, and it’s a terrible position for the organization and the industry. Knaus also noted while the teams are being held accountable to present legal cars for competition, no one is holding the suppliers of the parts to that same level.
“When we started to get parts at the beginning of the 2023 season, we didn’t have the parts we thought we were going to have,” Knaus said. “Through a tremendous amount of back and forth with NASCAR and the OEM and the teams, there’s been conversations about whether we can clean up the parts, not clean up the parts and it’s changed, quite honestly, every couple of weeks. So, it’s been challenging for us to navigate, and we’re going to have to see what happens when we get through the appeal.”
Byron enters Atlanta as the defending race winner, coming off back-to-back wins at Las Vegas and Phoenix. Byron and his teammates were dominant during the Western swing, with over 500 laps led between the four of them.
All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are outside the top 20 in points. Byron and Larson have negative playoff points after the penalty. But Byron said it’s early in the season, and depending on the appeal plays out, his team will adjust. He anticipates the same speed and pace in their race cars and said the No. 24 team would continue to push hard each weekend toward the playoffs.
If anything, Byron is more motivated to succeed after the penalties.
“Absolutely,” Byron said. “I really get excited about coming to the racetrack right now. I was excited in the offseason with the group I know we have. So if anything, it just shows that we’re not there yet. We have more to prove, and we have more to go out there and accomplish. I think that’s a dangerous thing, right? We’re going out there with a goal in mind; a specific goal to win every week. We’re going to keep pushing for that every single week.
“It starts during the week. A lot of the weekend stuff is a result of what we do and our processes back at the shop and communicating with one another. I think that process started on Monday as soon as we got back from Phoenix — what could we have done better at Phoenix? Because that’s a really important racetrack. There were certainly things we could have done better there. I thought the 4 car (Kevin Harvick) was the best car. I thought we were second or third-best, kind of right there with the 5 (Larson). So, I think there were things last week that we could have done better.
“We addressed all of that Monday and Tuesday and Tuesday night, turned the page to focus on Atlanta. Obviously, this place has been good for us in the past, but July wasn’t quite as good. So we looked at a lot of the things that Chase (Elliott) and the 9 team were doing really well here in July and tried to apply that to this weekend for us.”