Hendrick Appeals To NASCAR

Car-owner Rick Hendrick has claimed all along that if NASCAR would give his No. 24 team a full hearing on the facts, that it would "exonerate the team from any intentional wrongdoing and remove any cloud of suspicion cast over a great victory."

Well, on Thursday, the No. 24 team got its shot.

At a hearing in Daytona, Hendrick officials got a chance to be heard concerning the $25,000 fine NASCAR levied upon their crew chief, and the 100 championship points that were taken away from Hendrick and his driver Jeff Gordon.

Whether their "facts" fell on deaf ears may not be known for days as NASCAR isn’t exactly known for a quick-trigger finger. In fact, it took NASCAR two full days to inspect the part and announce the penalty.

The penalties were handed out to the Hendrick team following what NASCAR said were rules violations found during post-race inspections after the team’s victory in the Chevy Monte Carlo 400 on Sept. 9 at Richmond International Raceway.

NASCAR said the team used a part - a GM intake manifold - that had not been approved by the organizing body.

Mike Helton, NASCAR’s senior vice president, said, "The GM part number on the casting was the same, however, a different material was used that altered the properties of the casting."

That ruling threw the entire Hendrick team - and GM - for a loop.

"There was no attempt to conceal the part, which we have been running since April," Hendrick said. "It also passed post-race inspection in Charlotte for two of our cars. There certainly was no attempt by us to gain an unfair advantage with the part available to, and in fact used by, other teams. We feel confident this ruling will be reversed."

GM's response was a similar one.

"We supplied these magnesium intake manifolds to our teams in the clear belief that they are allowed under the rules," said Doug Duchardt, the NASCAR group manage for GM. "They are identical in shape and dimensions to the comparable aluminum manifold, produce no increase in horsepower and NASCAR has, on many occasions, permitted changes in materials of components where not explicitly prohibited by the rules. There is no mention of materials in the rule on intake manifolds… Moreover, on multiple occasions, engines using these manifolds have been inspected by NASCAR and pronounced satisfactory."

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