By admin | February 23, 2012
By Richard Allen
Jokes have often been made that teams, drivers or crew chiefs who cause NASCAR grief in any way will have trouble getting through inspection the next week. Well, the most high profile owner in the sport doesn’t seem to think that’s a joke right now.
Rick Hendrick called into question the inspection process used by the sport’s sanctioning body following the recent failure of one of his cars. Either the NASCAR Research and Development Center isn’t doing a thorough enough job or the inspectors at the track do indeed use the process as a high powered way of getting their point across was the apparent implication of the team owner.
Last Friday, Hendrick Motorsports car #48 of driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus failed to pass through inspection prior to pole qualifying for the Daytona 500. According to NASCAR officials, the car’s C-posts were outside the allowed tolerances.
However, HMS says it wasn’t that the car did not fit the templates but that the offending pieces simply did not look right to the officials. If that is indeed what happened, it most definitely calls the inspection process into question.
“That car, we’ve run it four times,” Hendrick declared. “It was built for this place and they never touched the roof, and it’s been to the Tech Center after they won Talladega (April of 2011). All that’s been done is paint it, so I don’t get it.”
Recall that last season just before another race in Talladega(October of 2011), Knaus was caught on camera telling Johnson to intentionally bang up the rear end of the car in his post-race burnout should he win the race. Johnson’s reaction was one of apparent surprise when given those instructions. The car did not win so no intentional banging was necessary.
Hendrick was asked if he thought Knaus was being given a not so subtle reminder that his somewhat unusual pre-race instructions in Talladega were not appreciated by NASCAR. “Maybe you can put it together,” the famed car owner and businessman implied.
“I don’t understand,” Hendrick went on. “They know the serial numbers of the cars. Our guys swear they have not touched the roof on the car.”
It seems improbable that such a major team as that of HMS did not touch the car they intend to use in NASCAR’s biggest race since last October, but that’s what is being said. So, if the car did indeed pass through the NASCAR R&D Center then how can it not pass a pre-race inspection where the tools used are not nearly as complex?
There is a significant inconsistency here somewhere. Either the R&D center is not doing its job or the inspectors at the track overstepped their bounds in trying to send Knaus a message for his earlier indiscretion. Or, the car was indeed ‘adjusted’ since its last track appearance.
Hendrick definitely has his own thoughts on the matter. “I don’t like it when someone says ‘I just don’t like the looks of it’ and never put the plate down on it,” he declared.
NASCAR officials said the issue was at first discovered by visual examination of the car and then confirmed by the inspection process. Hendrick says NASCAR never used the claw to see if the car met specifications.
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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