Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chad Knaus’ suspension again delayed, but why doesn’t Jimmie Johnson still have his 25 points?

Hendrick Motorsports got the expected answer from a three-person appeals board Tuesday over its appeal of NASCAR’s penalties on the #48 team from Daytona: The penalties won’t be changed.

NASCAR had penalized the team 25 driver and owner points, fined crew chief Chad Knaus $100,000, and suspended Knaus and car chief Ron Malec for illegal C-posts on the back of the #48 car that were found during the opening inspection for Speedweeks.

Owner Rick Hendrick then filed an appeal that was finally shot down Tuesday.
But that’s not all. Hendrick has one more option, and he will use it. He will file an appeal of the appeal one level higher with the final judge on this case, John Middlebrook.

Although the next appeal doesn’t appear to be any more successful than this last one, Knaus and Malec will both still be at Bristol Motor Speedway this coming weekend. They won’t officially serve their suspensions until the horse has been beaten, buried, exhumed and buried again.

However, there is one part of the penalty that has already been enforced: the 25 points. Sure, it is easy to reverse that on the standings sheet if the next appeal is successful, but it doesn’t make sense to take away Jimmie Johnson’s points when Knaus hasn’t paid his fine or served his suspension.

Let’s say the #48 team crashed early at Bristol this week and was on the bubble of the top 35 in points that guarantee a car a spot in the race. Those 25 points could potentially make a huge difference in whether or not the team had a guaranteed spot in two weeks at Martinsville, which is when the top 35 rule goes into effect for this year’s points standings.

If the appeal isn’t heard by the April 1 race at Martinsville, Johnson could be outside the top 35 in points. But, if the appeal is later overturned, Johnson could’ve been cheated out of a spot in the Martinsville race because of points he never should’ve been docked until the final appeal was heard.

That means Johnson could miss a race because only part of the penalties were enforced after Daytona. If Knaus and Malec aren’t required to sit out races immediately following NASCAR’s announcement of the penalties, Johnson shouldn’t officially lose those 25 points until all of the appeals have been heard.

Johnson would currently be tied for 13th in the standings without the penalties, but instead he sits 23rd.

Penalties similar to this situation could also really mess up the Chase if NASCAR penalizes a team near the cutoff race in September at Richmond. If a team misses the Chase by less than 25 points but then has the appeal overturned after the Chase starts, would they be given back a Chase spot and somebody else kicked out?

There have been controversies in NASCAR before, but imagine how large this one would be.

Even though these are very hypothetical situations that are unlikely to happen this time, crazy things happen in NASCAR and one day this one could jump up and bite NASCAR pretty hard.


  1. even if Jimmy johnson crashes during qualifying he still has a championship provisional...

  2. As stated above, Jimmie missing a race because of this is moot. He WILL be in the race no matter what since he has the champion's provisional.

    As for your second scenario, I would hope that with a penalty that close to the Chase cut-off, NASCAR would act with due diligence and get the appeals over and done with before the start of the Chase. (Of course, the only thing I can ever be sure of with NASCAR is that they will be inconsistent in whatever they do.)

  3. In this particular case Johnson could use the champion's provisional because Stewart is near the top of the standings, but what if this happens to someone who doesn't have a champion's provisional? It won't be as big of a deal because more people care about the #48 team, but the point is the same. Messing with the points before the penalty is final only leaves open room for problems.

  4. Jacob,

    They are allowing the 48 team to get used to the points penalty since it isn't going to go away... Allowing Chad to stay on the box through the first 4-5 races while the appeals process gets completed is a reward in my opinion as the teams wade through, with the exception of a road course, all the main types of racing Sprint Cup follows and with the new year and revised set-ups that's gotta be worth quite a lot. My question: Does this mean Chad will simply not be there for the 6 races and still work in HMS's home shop? Or will he be totally banned from all phases of the operation for 6 races?


  5. Dwindy1 - In the past Knaus has been able to work from the shop during the week. I'd be shocked if that's not the case this time, as well. NASCAR wouldn't have jurisdiction over Hendrick Motorsports, just what happens at the race track.

  6. Good pondering Mayer...more inconsistencies from our beloved NASCAR but I am sure NASCAR knew they would be playing with appeals that they wouldnt overturn so mine as well punish them somehow. I forgot the lined up by points from last year for the first 5 races, I was so looking forward to seeing JJ's hauler parked in the -23rd spot in the garage. sigh