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Hendrick Dominance, Louvers and the Package – Motorsports Tribune

Hendrick Dominance, Louvers and the Package – Motorsports Tribune

William Byron has won half the races.
Alex Bowman is the championship leader.
Kyle Larson is fifth in points, up front every week.

Much could change over the course of the spring and summer, but Hendrick Motorsports is the class of the field through the first four races of the Cup Series season. They showed the most pure speed in Daytona 500 time trials and have now set the pace in the first true intermediate and short track races of the campaign too.

Even rookie Josh Berry, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott, earned his first career top-10 on Sunday in just his second start driving the Next Gen platform.

It’s a testament to the organization, with the crew chiefs especially working diligently over the offseason to maximize a body that already seemed to provide an advantage over Ford and Toyota, with the separation growing early this season.

That’s not to say the other organizations don’t work just as hard, because they do, but you get feted when you’re on top of the world the way Chevrolet and Hendrick is.

Jeff Gordon recalls a story about walking into the Hendrick Motorsports campus on December 26, one day after Christmas, finding just one other soul in the building. It was No. 24 crew chief Rudy Fugle.

“I came to the office, this guy was there all by himself,” Gordon recalled. “I’m so proud of this guy and the efforts they’re putting in, see the results.”

And it’s just not Fugle, but also the other crew chiefs in Alan Gustafson, Cliff Daniels and newcomer Blake Harris, and how they work with each other and their drivers to find every missing bit of speed.

“We work together really well,” Fugle said. “Cliff and I were chatting about what strategy we were going to do. Open in the chat multiple times if we were going to take four or two, how we were going to do it. Even racing against each other, fully working together. We work together great, all four crew chiefs, all four teams.”


But there is a storm looming over the horizon as NASCAR confiscated the hood louvers from all four Hendrick Motorsports cars on Friday and recent precedence indicates that a massive penalty is likely to follow.

Last March, Brad Keselowski, crew chief Matt McCall and RFK Racing were hit with a massive penalty for modifying tail panel of the Next Gen car. This resulted in a 100-point penalty for both Keselowski the driver and the No. 6 car in the owner standings. Keselowski and the car…

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