March 13, 2012
Johnson's crew chief ban upheld
By DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - To no one’s surprise the NASCAR appeals panel upheld its six-race suspension of Chad Knaus — crew chief for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson — on Tuesday.
The three person panel also ruled that a $100,00 fine and a 25 championship points penalty will stand.
Immediately upon hearing the news team owner Rick Hendrick vowed to take his case to the chief appellate officer, John Middlebrook.
“I don’t accept (the ruling), period, ” Hendrick said. “The panel was generous with its time today, and we appreciated the opportunity to talk through our concerns. We feel strongly about this issue and will continue to pursue it at the next level.”
The panel that heard the appeal in Concorde, N.C., consisted of former U.S. Auto Club boss John Capels, former IndyCar official Leo Mehl and North Carolina track promoter Dale Pinilis.
In a statement released by the appeals committee the trio said their ruling was unanimous.
“Upon hearing the testimony, carefully reviewing the facts and historically comparative penalties, the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR.”
NASCAR hasn’t set a new date for Hendrick to take his case to Middlebrook but it won’t be before this week’s Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
That clears the way for Knaus to be back on the pit box for Johnson on Sunday.
“Chad will be at Bristol,” Hendrick said. “I believe in my guys and I believe in the system.”
Knaus and the team were originally found guilty of bringing a race car to the Daytona 500 with an illegal C-post — the pillar that separates the roof and the rear deck lid.
Knaus was suspended six races and find $100,000; five-time NASCAR champion Johnson was docked 25 points and car chief Ron Malec also was suspended six races.
Hendrick argued on Tuesday that the same car had passed inspection 16 times before and that NASCAR inspectors didn’t use a template to judge the part prior to insisting it was outside of the rules.
Part of the problem for Hendrick is that Knaus is a multiple offender. He has several suspensions and has been disciplined half a dozen times over the past 10 seasons for trying to bend the rules.
Some in the Sprint Cup garage say that Knaus is an innovator who delves into the grey areas of NASCAR’s rule book to find any advantage he can use to help get the No. 48 team to Victory Lane.
But just as many call him a cheater.
Whatever anybody want to call him, Knaus is first and foremost a winner. He has led Johnson to a record five consecutive Sprint Cup championships in the past six years and to 53 wins since he joined the No. 48 team in 2002
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