Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus penalized after Daytona 500

NASCAR announced Wednesday that five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief Chad Knaus have been penalized as a result of rules infractions found on Feb. 17 during opening day inspection for the Daytona 500.
Knaus and car chief Ron Malec have been suspended for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup races and placed on NASCAR probation until May 9th. Knaus has also been fined $100,000.
Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon have been penalized with the loss of 25 driver and 25 owner points, respectively.

Wow. What a blow to the No. 48 team. Nobody was sure how bad the penalties would be, or even if they would come. But boy did they.
If five-time is going to become six-time he's going to be in a deep hole. With the 25-point penalty and his 42nd place finish in the Daytona 500, Johnson sits at -23 points, or 70 points behind points-leader Matt Kenseth.

On a more immediate note, Johnson and company sit 32 points behind the Wood Brothers No. 21 car in owner points. That's a 12 place finish if the Wood Brothers don't enter the No. 21 at Phoenix.

This is Johnson we're talking about though. If anyone can make up such a big deficit by the fifth week of the season it's him. Not like it would matter if he couldn't though, he'd make the races based on speed and even if that failed, he's got a past champions provisional to fall back on.

As far as Knaus goes, his prior infractions obviously led to the six-race suspension and long probation. Rick Hendrick and company are appealing the penalties so Knaus will be at Phoenix.

This should be fun to watch. Remember, the last time Knaus and crew were suspended, Johnson went on to win the Daytona 500 and later, the Sprint Cup Championship.

I think the penalties are fair, if you agree that the No. 48 crew needed to be penalized. But I'm not 100 percent sure I agree they should have. Hendrick claims the car that got penalized was the same one Johnson drove at all four restrictor plate races last season.

What do you guys think? Was the penalty too big, too small or just right?

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