Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and William Byron brought opposite attitudes to Bristol Motor Speedway after a second inspection penalty in three weeks.
The two teams were penalized by NASCAR after they had their cars, the No. 48 and No. 24, taken to the R&D Center for further inspection after last weekend’s race at Richmond Raceway. During the teardown, a violation was found in the greenhouse of both cars.
Both teams lost 60 points and five playoff points. The penalty knocked Bowman from the points lead.
“Man, I just drive the thing,” Bowman said. “We’ve got the best average finish of the year, and obviously having a good starting position was good last week, and we’re not leading points anymore, but all I can do is keep performing how we have been and trying to be better each and every week and do my job.”
Bowman has the best average finish of the series and the most top-10 finishes. Given that, he’s been focused on the positives and said it outweighs all the negatives around his team.
He did, however, say the penalty would be frustrating should he not win the regular season championship by that point margin. His dry sense of humor showed when asked about his and Byron’s cars being the ones chosen for inspection after Hendrick Motorsports won their appeal from the L2 penalty issued last month.
“It’s a random inspection, man,” Bowman said. “It’s completely random. Just chances got us there.”
Hendrick Motorsports was penalized in early March for modified hood louvers on all four cars. The organization immediately filed an appeal and repeatedly insisted they shouldn’t have been in that position because the single-source suppliers are not providing the correct parts.
The National Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinded the 100-point penalty to all four Hendrick Motorsports teams the week going into Richmond. Kyle Larson then won the Richmond race, while NASCAR took Byron and Bowman’s cars. Then came the second penalty earlier this week.
“It’s suboptimal, right?” Bowman said of two penalties. “But it doesn’t have anything to do with me. It’s my job to drive the race car and perform at the highest level that I’m capable of behind the wheel, and I feel like we’ve had a good start to the year and just running as well as we have has got me feeling pretty good about things.
“It’s the best start to the season that I’ve had in my career, so I’ve been enjoying that. I’m not frustrated. I feel like my team — we did a really good job of overcoming the first one and staying plugged in and not letting it get to us, and I’m confident we can do that throughout the second one as well.”
Humorous moods were not shared all around, though. During his media availability, Byron, who rarely shows frustration, was short and clear with his answers, very much not amused.
“I feel like they could take all the cars to the R&D Center, so I don’t understand it,” Byron said of what happened last week. “But I’m not happy.”
On whether he believes it was really random that NASCAR chose his and Bowman’s cars inspection: “You tell me. It doesn’t look very random, does it?”
Asked if he feels there is a stain on his team or organization after two penalties in the span of a few weeks, Byron said, “It’s not a stain for us. We don’t really look outside of our team. Our team has been great this year, and we’ll keep it going.”
He followed, “It’s been great; love my job,” when asked about the atmosphere around Hendrick Motorsports with everything that’s happened the last few weeks.
And given that he’s yo-yoed up and down the point standings with 100 points taken and given back and 60 points taken away this week, he summed the conversation up with a simple “I don’t have anything good to say.”