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? http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1693
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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