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« Rule packages don’t wreck, drivers do | Main | Anyone else wonder why only one Hendrick car had illegal C-posts? »

Does Chad Knaus really deserve a penalty for this “violation”?

By admin | February 20, 2012

By Richard Allen


Much was made of the fact that Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, was out of the country and did not attend the pre-season test session held at the Daytona International Speedway in January. Now it appears as though there could well be another opportunity to make much of a vacation by the Hendrick Motorsports pit boss.

During a pre-qualifying inspection on Friday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway, Knaus’s #48 car was found to have C-posts that were deemed outside of NASCAR’s liking. Those parts were confiscated by the sanctioning body and new pieces had to be flown in from the HMS shop in North Carolina.

The C-post is the piece on the car’s body that runs down from the roof to the rear quarter panel. It is believed that altering those panels would redirect the air as it moves around the car and thus improve its aerodynamics.

This is not the first time Knaus has run afoul of NASCAR officials.

In 2006, the crew chief, who has since gone on to win five Sprint Cup championships with Johnson as driver, was suspended for that season’s first four races after Johnson’s car failed a post-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500. It was discovered that the rear window had been tampered with in such a way as to provide and aerodynamic advantage.

Johnson went on to win the Daytona 500 that year with Darian Grubb serving as temporary crew chief. The #48 went on to claim the Sprint Cup title that year as well.

In 2007, Knaus again found himself on the receiving end of NASCAR sanctions when Johnson was not allowed to qualify his car at Infineon Raceway in California after the front fenders on the HMS Chevrolet were found to be outside of NASCAR’s standards. He was suspended for six races that season, but again, the team went on win the season championship.

NASCAR has shown they have little tolerance for teams who “adjust” the body on their Car of Tomorrow. They have also shown they have little tolerance for Chad Knaus.

NASCAR president Mike Helton on Saturday hinted that another penalty would be forthcoming for the crew chief. “It fits in the category of pre-race inspection issues that we’ve had in the past,” Helton declared. “It will warrant a reaction from us more so than what you’ve seen already, more than what we’ve done so far.”

Helton even went so far as to use the phase “high likelihood” to characterize the possibility of a Knaus penalty being announced.

If Knaus’s first vacation received a fair amount of media attention. He will probably be getting another vacation very soon. Considering his previous record, this vacation may very well be an extended one even though Helton said those past offenses won’t necessarily be held against him.

This writer has often criticized NASCAR for not allowing teams to show any ingenuity. It has been reported that this particular violation was not so much one of a car that didn’t fit the templates as it was one that just didn’t look the way the officials wanted it to look.

It also should be noted that the 2007 issue at Infineon Raceway was much the same in that the issue was in a place where the template was not even placed on the car.

If that is indeed the case this time as well, NASCAR needs to build a better template rather than punish a crew chief who found a gray area within which to work. But, that will most likely not be the case. Ingenuity and creativity are highly frowned upon in today’s NASCAR.

So, enjoy your time off, Mr. Knaus.

Companion piece: Anyone else wonder why only one Hendrick car had illegal C-posts?

I will be giving away $50 to one of my twitter followers who correctly picks the winner of the Daytona 500. You must follow @RacingWithRich on twitter to participate in the contest.

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12 Responses to “Does Chad Knaus really deserve a penalty for this “violation”?”

  1. Offkilter Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I read somewhere that Hendrick stated the car had raced last year at the plate tracks and passed inspection and that the car had not been cut up after those races. A little egg on nascar’s face courtesy of Mr Hendrick if thats true.

    As far as Chad getting time off, he may only be fined and put on probation. I could be wrong, but i think nascar suspensions happen if a team jacks with the car after it passes the first inspection and they see something changed in the following or post race inspection.
    I’m in agreement, Rich, that if the car fits all the templates, it’s legal.

  2. Sue Rarick Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 9:11 am

    That is the same car that was taken down to Daytona R&D a couple times last year and was totally examined…..and it passed every time.

    So what they are saying is that Nascar’s R&D center doesn’t know what it’s doing and all their computer measuring is worthless?

    I am sure there will be some who will say the panel was modified after those inspections. But I am sure that panel was checked for thickness during those inspections. And Nascar has the offending panel. Remeasure the panel and if it’s the same, then it wasn’t modified. Beat out a panel and it’s thickness will change. Simple test.

  3. mr clause Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Only in NASCAR can someone be punished for an eyeball look see a week before the actual race. With all the engineering in NASCAR today it seems just a little murky when it comes down to, I just don’t think that part looks right. If the claw doesn’t check it how can someone be punished? The big deal now will be that Hendrick has pretty much called out NASCAR on these parts having passed pre and post race inspections four times as well as the certification at the tech center. How can NASCAR come up so lacking in it’s decision making? It’s just bush league.

  4. oldirtracker Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I am not a big Chad Knaus fan , however if Mr. Hendrick’s statement that the car was run in 4 previous plate races and had been through Nascar R & D center inspection with the car in the same configuration as now, Nascar should man up, apologize to Hendrick racing and pay for the work done to change the car. How can Nascar in good concience fine someone for an alleged infraction that has been missed 5 times. Everytime Nascar looks like they are getting their act together they shoot themselves in the foot.

  5. John McManus Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Is the C post a part supplied by NASCAR? Is it one of the parts certified with the little bumps after inspection at the R&D centre?

    Does Nascar have a template back at the centre that they don’t bring to the track?

    Can the C post flex or distort when being removedfrom the car body?

    Nascar got themselves into a situation last year with not being able to inspect Boyer’s car at the track. Now they are again faced with not being able to tell a team whether the car is legal or not. It takes a week and nthat is not reassuring.

  6. Bob Tanner Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    So, Rick has as much as said that NASCAR doesn’t know what it’s doing when it comes to inspections? I think I got that about right. If that be the case, then will NASCAR hit Hendrick with one of its “Secret fines for making disparaging remarks about the Sanctioning body, such as the fines they’ve leveled against Newman and Hamlin in the past?

  7. Lydia Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I would agree with all the above “poor Chads” if it wasn’t for SO MANY past Knaus infractions. What about talladega’s “whisper heard around the TV world” when Knaus tells Johnson to wreck the car should he win ( I think this is the same car). I totally get the crew chiefs are pushing the issue..more power to them! But, if you get caught, man up and take your medicine. Just because NASCAR didn’t find the infraction before doesn’t mean it doesn’t exsist. I don’t defend NASCAR..but i wonder if Chad layed low and played it straight last season..and they finished 6th in the season..sounds like Knaus wants that championship back to me! Does Hendrick know when his teams push the envelope? If he’s smart I would think he has told them to never tell him…that way he can defend his team with a straight face!

  8. John McManus Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Why can’t somebody answer my questions? I’m serious. Why no template. Why opinion when Nascar has said they have made inspection objective?

    I’m not just defending Hendrick, Childress ( and I dislike the way he took money over driver safety at Talledega)Boyer was hit by opinion not fact.

    Nascar inspection now has no more credibility than when they allowed Petty to run 460 engines.

  9. John McManus Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    A walk with the dogs cleared my head. Nascar could have taken the car, measured it with the arm and it could be back for Wednesday. The only problem is they haven’t got a dimention for the area in question so how can they measure it.

    I don’t like the way it looks is hardly professional.

  10. Chris Fiegler Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Do you think that Chad Kanus will be suspended Beginning on March 2?

  11. Josie Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I think we’re taking this ” NASCAR didn’t like the way the C posts looked” a little too literal. Hendrick has the option to appeal the penalty and I am sure NASCAR has more to make their case then just eyeballing the car. I have read differing reports as to how NASCAR came to the conclusion the car was incorrect…and it seems they did do some measuring according to some reports. I’ll keep my opinion until I hear more from NASCAR concerning the infraction and the penalty.

  12. Sue Rarick Says:
    February 22nd, 2012 at 9:57 am

    John McManus………. To answer your question about the template. I built prototypes for years and we used a ton of templates to make sure the port matched the starboard.

    A shape like you have on the ‘C’ pillar would be difficult to have a template for unless it was a seperate one with location points on the main template. And even then would probably need more relaxed tolerances than on the regular template. There are a number of different conical forms intersecting that create that shape.

    Basically it’s a complex shape that unless stamped out will have variances from car to car. With the number of people complaining about cookie cutter cars I don’t think Nascar would want to get in the business of issuing stamped car parts for each car.