NASCAR’s five-time championship team has a 1-2 punch to the gut to start their 2012 season. Just days after wrecking out of the Daytona 500 on lap 2, the crew chief for Jimmie Johnson‘s No. 48 car, Chad Knaus, has been suspended for six weeks after an infraction for a modified C-pillar discovered in pre-inspection during the start of Speedweeks at Daytona.
In announcing the penalty, NASCAR explained the team was in basic violation of Sections 12-1, actions detrimental to stock car racing, and 12-4J. That rule states that a team may be penalized if NASCAR officials deem that race equipment used in the event does not conform to rules detailed in Section 20 of the rulebook, or has not been approved by the sport prior to the event.
However, the main rule violated, through the out-of-tolerance C-pillar on the rear of the car was Section 20-2.1E. This rule says that if, in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted. The unapproved car body modifications discovered, which fall under the jurisdiction of Knaus apply here.
The penalties are harsh: Knaus and car chief Ron Malec have been suspended for the next six races, through Texas on April 14 and placed on NASCAR probation until May 9. Knaus has also been fined $100,000, while the team loses 25 owner points. Johnson has also been hit with a loss of 25 driver points, which puts him in the negative for the first time in his career. With a total of -23, he’ll enter Phoenix a whopping 70 points behind leader Matt Kenseth and 58 outside the top 10.
Hendrick Motorsports have already announced their plans to appeal the penalty, which will table the suspensions until further notice. Here’s the official statement from Rick Hendrick on the matter:
“Our organization respects NASCAR and the way the sanctioning body governs our sport,” he said. “In this case, though, the system broke down, and we will voice our concerns through the appeal process.”
HMS spokesman Jesse Essex also confirmed there will be no adjustments to the No. 48 crew while the appeal is ongoing.
About the author
The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.
You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.
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