BRISTOL, Tenn. — William Byron expressed his frustration with NASCAR penalizing his team for a second time this season, saying “I’m not happy.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver rarely shows his displeasure publicly, but his three-minute session with reporters at Bristol Motor Speedway ranks as one of those rare times he’s done so.
NASCAR took the cars of Byron and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman after last weekend’s race at Richmond to the R&D Center for further examination. NASCAR discovered an infraction and penalized both teams.
Byron, the only driver to win two Cup races this season, and Bowman were penalized 60 points and five playoff points. Both of their interim crew chiefs were fined $75,000 and suspended two races each. Hendrick Motorsports stated that it will decide to appeal the penalty after this weekend’s race.
NASCAR typically does not take the winner or runner-up cars to the R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina, after a race because of the rigorous inspection done with those cars at the track. NASCAR can choose to take any vehicle it wants to the R&D Center for further evaluation.
That NASCAR took two Hendrick cars raised eyebrows since it came just days after an appeals panel rescinded the point penalties to the Hendrick drivers and teams for a previous infraction.
Byron wasn’t pleased.
“I feel like they could take all the cars to the R&D Center,” Byron said. “I don’t understand it. I’m not happy.”
On his car and Bowman’s car being taken for further evaluation, Byron said: “It doesn’t look very random, does it?”
This week’s penalty dropped Byron from fourth to 14th in the points. The previous penalty of 100 points dropped him from fourth to 29th.
Asked how he’s handled yo-yoing in the points based on penalties and appeals, Byron said: “I don’t have anything good to say.”
Byron said he didn’t consider the multiple penalties against his team this year to be a stain on it.
“It’s not a stain for us,” he said. “We don’t really look outside our team. Our team has been great this year and we’ll keep it going.”
Byron will start Sunday’s Cup race on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway 10th. Teammate Kyle Larson will start on the pole.