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DATE News (chronologically)
03/13/12
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Reaction to NASCAR's decision on No. 48
Larry McReynolds, NASCAR analyst on FOX & SPEED, and NASCAR Race Hub analyst Jimmy Spencer reacted to the fines & suspension being upheld for No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec.

Larry McReynolds: The personal side of me is uncomfortable about this whole deal because I have a lot of respect for Rick Hendrick, and have a lot of respect for Chad Knaus. He’s a friend. We do shows together. But I am not surprised they upheld it. I’m really not. He didn’t even use the word precedent, I don’t think that’s the right word to use, but I think the template was set back in 2007 when the 48, ironically, and the 24, unloaded at Infineon (Sonoma, Calif.) with those fenders. The template fit that day, but NASCAR has said since day one, and to quote (NASCAR Vice President of Competition) Robin Pemberton, ‘This is a gold surface, don’t mess with it.’ This is how you are to build this race car. I was not a bit surprised they upheld it. I don’t see (Chief Appellate Officer) John Middlebrook over-ruling it either.

I think the team will still be business as usual. I look at what they’ve accomplished the last two weeks and it’s been pretty remarkable, when you look at everything hanging over them. Even going back to Phoenix when they finished fourth, they not only had this but they also had the loose-wheel situation halfway through the race. You aren’t going to find a team with more depth or more professionalism than Hendrick Motorsports and the 48 team. Even if John Middlebrook holds it, I still wouldn’t be surprised to see the performance continue right on, just as it did back in 2006 when they won two of the first four races when Chad was suspended then.

Jimmy Spencer: NASCAR implemented this common template that we have to balance the field out, and they have done a very good job with it. Cars in the back, David Stremme, Fast Lane Racing, etc… these guys are fairly competitive with this ‘Car of Tomorrow’ template. They (the 48 team) went between the lines and massaged on that car… that’s a no-no. NASCAR is not going to reduce this. NASCAR has set a precedent and you don’t mess with those templates, and I agree with NASCAR 100 percent. To me, this is the best racing we have had in years and if they let that car – and let the guys work in between those templates – we’re going to have gray areas that are, in turn, going to keep compounding. (It will be) back to the point where it is going to cost car owners thousands of dollars to fix them.

The National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel on Tuesday unanimously upheld the original penalties assessed by NASCAR against Hendrick Motorsports and crew chief Knaus for violations found in opening-day inspection at Daytona International Speedway last month.  Following is reaction from SPEED and NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip regarding Hendrick Motorsports’ failure to win their initial appeal and their next and final step in appealing the decision to National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook:

Your reaction to the panel’s decision to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR?

Waltrip:  “I am surprised this wasn’t overturned in some form.  I really thought there would be some sort of a reduction in the penalty.  The money and points fine makes sense to me, and Jimmie Johnson has made up a lot of points recently and is coming up through the point standings.  But six weeks’ suspension for Chad (Knaus) and the car chief (Ron Malec) – I thought that was a little excessive.  But there is precedent.  It’s not like this hasn’t been done before or this is a cruel and unusual punishment.

“From the panel’s perspective, NASCAR and its inspectors would have had to have done something glaringly wrong at Daytona to warrant reversing the original decision and penalties.  Most of us expected the panel to side with NASCAR.  That doesn’t mean the panel is prejudiced or acts as a rubber stamp. The panel doesn’t look at circumstantial evidence.  They look at what happened and what, if any, rules were broken by the team.  Was the process handled in the proper manner? If the panel is satisfied that everything was handled properly, they’re unlikely to reverse a decision.  If no rule had been broken by the team, the panel would have had an easy job. This process is like a football team appealing a call made on the field.  The next appeal to John Middlebrook would be like the refs going to the video to make a call.  But like Rick Hendrick said, I’m glad we have a process we can appeal through.  NASCAR doesn’t just tell teams to ‘suck it up and move on.’ At least there is a process in place.”

On whether Knaus’ past history with NASCAR violations may have played a role in the panel’s failure to overturn the penalties:

Waltrip:  “I would like to think every case stands on its own merit.  But sometimes a team or crew chief is under more scrutiny than anyone else, especially when they have a reputation of doing questionable things – not even wrong and illegal – but questionable.  But once you’re placed in that box by public opinion, you’ll be scrutinized more so than others.” 

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