BRISTOL, Tenn. — Disappointed that his points penalty and the fines and suspension to crew chief Chad Knaus weren’t overturned on appeal last week, Jimmie Johnson hopes next Tuesday’s appeal to NASCAR’s “Supreme Court” produces a different result.
“I’m definitely disappointed in what happened last Tuesday,” said Johnson, who incurred a 25-point penalty after his Daytona 500 car failed opening-day inspection because of unapproved modifications to the “C” posts that connect the rear of the roof to the rear deck lid.
“I have hope that this next appeal will be heard and we will have a different outcome. There’s no telling how it is all going to shake out.”
Knaus and car chief Ron Malec were suspended for six races each for the Daytona infraction. Knaus also drew a $100,000 fine. The National Stock Car Racing Commission upheld the sanctions on Tuesday, leaving team owner Rick Hendrick the option of a last-resort appeal to John Middlebrook, NASCAR’s chief appellate officer.
Middlebrook has reduced, but not rescinded, NASCAR-imposed penalties in all three of the cases he has heard since assuming that role. Only one of those cases — penalties levied against Richard Childress Racing after Clint Bowyer’s race-winning car at New Hampshire in September 2010 failed inspection — involved the Cup series.
Johnson said suspensions to Knaus and Malec would constitute “a huge blow to the team.” But Knaus has been suspended before, and Johnson has succeeded in spite of his crew chief’s enforced vacations. Johnson won his first two championships 2006 and 2007 despite suspensions of four and six weeks, respectively, levied against Knaus.
The five-time champion dismissed the notion that Knaus’ repeated brushes with NASCAR law might taint his legacy as a driver.
“You all know that there is not a car more scrutinized in this garage area than the No. 48,” Johnson said. “It’s been that way for the last decade. By no means do I think it hampers it at all.”