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NASCAR suspends Knaus for six weeks; Hendrick to appeal UPDATE #2 Team owner Rick Hendrick and #48 crew chief Chad Knaus will get to explain next Tuesday why they think NASCAR erred in penalizing Hendrick Motorsports for the C-posts on the Daytona 500 car of Jimmie Johnson. NASCAR confirmed that the appeal will be heard Tuesday morning at its Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C. A three-member panel will determine whether NASCAR officials were justified in suspending Knaus and car chief Ron Malec for six weeks as well as penalizing five-time Cup champion Johnson 25 points and fining Knaus $100,000. Both Hendrick and Knaus have said they believe templates should have been put on the car before it was confiscated Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway. While teams often aren't successful on appeal, Hendrick has won one appeal of a suspension of Knaus in 2005. Knaus has been suspended three other times in his career. Sporting News

Paybacks are a bitch.  After Knaus told Jimmy Johnson to back his car into the wall after the race so they would not get caught cheating in the post-race inspection you know NASCAR had it in for him, and it was only a matter of time before they made Knaus pay for his sins.
02/29/12 Former Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports team member, Matt Clark, who came to SPEED as a NASCAR Insider at the beginning of the season, joined NASCAR Race Hub host Steve Byrnes during Wednesday’s (Feb. 29) show to talk about the penalties NASCAR handed down to the No. 48 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.

The team, driven by five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, received these penalties after an unapproved C-Post was found during NASCAR’s initial Daytona 500 inspection on Feb. 17.

Crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec each received six-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race suspensions, along with an overall NASCAR suspension until April 18 and probation until May 9. In addition, Knaus was fined $100,000, while driver Jimmie Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon were each docked 25 championship points, respectively. Hendrick Motorsports has already stated they are appealing the ruling.

Here’s what Clark had to say on NASCAR Race Hub:

Byrnes: Chad Knaus, at Hendrick Motorsports, has had a history of trying to work outside, maybe, NASCAR’s rule book – let’s call it the gray area – what are your initial thoughts when you see this infraction. Is it too much? Is it not enough?

Clark: I spoke with a number of team members in the garage over the last two weeks because this happened earlier, and the (NASCAR) garage is split on this. You have some guys say that it wasn’t warranted because there are other cars that are kind of shaped that way. I understand what’s happening. Chad has to push a limit. If you don’t show up to the track, trying to make an effort… remember, this car was caught before it got on the track. It was the initial inspection. There are 48 haters out there, but if you are trying to be objective, it might be steep. There are really two camps here.

Byrnes: In terms of protocol, and since they are appealing all these fines and penalties, will they be allowed to be on top of the pit box and in the pit area in Phoenix?

Clark: During the appeals process, they will be allowed to be in Phoenix. I do know, talking to people at Hendrick Motorsports at Daytona, they were planning for the worst-case scenario. Their organization is very deep. They were planning for suspensions, hoping against it, right now they will appeal the process and I think they are looking for some grounds to try and convince the panel that what happened can be explained. 

Byrnes: Chad has appealed a penalty and fine before, and has been successful. I would submit however that this area – the C-Post – seems like a pretty cut-and-dried area.

Clark: NASCAR looked at it, and it was caught before it even went to the (template) “claw.” The C-Post is a stamped piece from the manufacturers and you’re not supposed to modify or alter it. That’s the ruling they are using. It will be very interesting to see what argument they make to the board because it’s made up of some former crew chiefs and track owners. Our good friend Bob Dilner (SPEED NASCAR Insider) thinks (the penalties) could be cut in half based on the argument that Hendrick makes to that board.

Byrnes: You said that Hendrick Motorsports has a lot of depth; certainly they won the Daytona 500 with Darian Grubb when Chad was suspended once before, if in fact the appeals process fails and Ron Malec and Chad Knaus stay home for six weeks, where does Hendrick go to find that leadership?

Clark: I think they look right down the bench and to the right of Chad Knaus and there’s Greg Ives. He’s been with the team for a long time, had a great racing pedigree and has done a good job as a lead engineer. Then I think they (bring) Mike Baumgartner over from the No. 24 team. He’s a long-time Hendrick employee. He came off the road as Jeff Gordon’s car chief for this year, as they put in Josh Kirk. I think “Bummy’ comes over and handles the car for three or four races. Those are the folks I think they can tap. There’s (also) talk of (former Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crew chief) Lance McGrew.

Byrnes: Do you think Chad Knaus and Hendrick Motorsports will be successful in their appeals process?

Clark: Chad’s won races, Chad’s won championships and Chad has won, one appeal. I just think it is hard to change the tide. I don’t want to politicize this too much, but I think they have some good merits moving forward. I think the consensus in the garage, and from other teams, is that there are other teams that kind of had that shape, but maybe not quite as bad. I think if they make a strong argument, I think the board has to consider it, and make an objective ruling.

02/29/12 NASCAR has issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the #48 team in the Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rules infractions found on Feb. 17 during opening day inspection for the Daytona 500. The #48 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-2.1E (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 -- unapproved car body modifications). As a result, crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec have been suspended from the next six Sprint Cup Series championship events, suspended from NASCAR until April 18 and placed on NASCAR probation until May 9. Additionally, Knaus has been fined $100,000. Driver Jimmie Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon have been penalized with the loss of 25 driver and 25 owner points, respectively. NASCAR PR

Hendrick Motorsports will appeal sanctions announced by NASCAR related to the #48 Sprint Cup Series team. "Our organization respects NASCAR and the way the sanctioning body governs our sport," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "In this case, though, the system broke down, and we will voice our concerns through the appeal process." Adjustments to #48 team personnel are not planned while the appeal is ongoing. Hendrick Motorsports
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