On Wednesday, NASCAR handed out penalties to Hendrick Motorsports for modified louvers and now the Cup standings have shifted. Just as Hendrick looked like the team to beat this season, they were hit with the most significant penalties ever given to a single organization.
The NASCAR standings after Phoenix were cut and dry. Alex Bowman put in his fourth top-10 finish in four races and led the standings. Well, that has clearly changed.
Not only was Hendrick Motorsports at the top of the standings, but they also had three in the top five. William Byron was in fourth and Kyle Larson was in fifth. With 100 points cut off their totals, it looks a lot different.
The good news for Byron is that he has those two wins to his name. He is for all intents and purposes in the playoffs. So, the points might not matter as much.
Kevin Harvick moves up into the lead of the points standings. Ross Chastain follows close behind. Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, and Kyle Busch are your new fast five. With these Hendrick Chevys out of the top of the standings, Ford now has five cars in the top 10.
NASCAR Standings Leave Hendrick Behind
With a schedule as long and extensive as the NASCAR Cup Series, I’ll never say never. However, there is one thing that these NASCAR standings are telling us that we need to prepare for.
While it doesn’t matter as much anymore, the regular season championship is still something that drivers covet. It helps their team and their crew members, and it’s like the “old” style championship.
Given the 100-point penalties to each team (barring a successful appeal), this almost assures that Hendrick Motorsports will not have a regular season champion. Last year, Brad Keselowski was hit with a similar 100-point penalty. He barely scraped together a 24th-place finish in the points standings and spent most of the year hovering around 30th.
So, the new NASCAR standings have Bowman at 23rd, Byron at 29th, and Kyle Larson at 32nd. Chase Elliott, who is out with injury, is at 26th place. When we get a few more races into the schedule, we will start to see the long-term effect these penalties have.