William Byron had already accepted the penalty NASCAR handed down to his team and the rest of Hendrick Motorsports and said he wasn’t expecting much from the appeals process.
But Byron and his teammates were given back their championship points and playoff points on Wednesday. It was the best-case scenario for the organization, even as the monetary fines and suspensions to the four crew chiefs were upheld.
“It was tough to think about how we were 10 playoff points down. That was the big thing,” Byron said on Saturday at Richmond Raceway. “You can probably make up the 100 (points) throughout the season, but having two race wins worth of playoff points gone was tough.
“Now we’re back in a good situation and back where we were before. It feels good.”
All four Hendrick Motorsports teams were issued L2-level penalties after NASCAR officials confiscated the hood louvers from the cars after practice at Phoenix Raceway last month. It was deemed the parts had been modified, and NASCAR’s Elton Sawyer said it was outside the tolerances that NASCAR allowed when making parts and pieces fit correctly.
But from the beginning, Chad Knaus, Hendrick Motorsports’ vice president of competition, said the parts aren’t arriving from the single source supplier as they should be. Hendrick, according to Knaus, did what they needed to ensure the pieces fit and the hood closed.
Before the points were reinstated, Byron was 22nd in the championship standings. He moves to third in the championship standings with a series-leading 14 playoff points.
“It feels great,” Byron said. “It was definitely a good Wednesday afternoon. It’s just nice to get those points back that we earned as a team. That’s what I told my guys. We earned those 10 playoff points and two race wins, so that was a big deal.”
But because he’d already accepted his fate with the penalty, Byron admitted it changed how he’s been racing. For example, last weekend at Circuit of the Americas, Byron wasn’t as aggressive as he might have been because he wanted to take a solid finish and the points.
“But now we’re back to square one, which is great,” he said, “and we have the points we earned back.”