By admin | March 13, 2012
By Richard Allen
Chad Knaus and his number 48 Hendrick Motorsports team were deemed by NASCAR to have submitted a car for pre-qualifying inspection at the Daytona International Speedway that was outside of the sanctioning body’s tolerances. They were subsequently hit with the significant penalty of a 25 point deduction from Jimmie Johnson’s driver totals as well as the car owner standings. Also, Knaus and car chief Ron Malec were suspended for six races and a fine was levied.
The car was judged by NASCAR officials at the track to have illegal C-posts even though it fit all of the body templates used for measurements. And more, HMS claims the car was raced in the very same condition multiple times in 2011 and had already passed the more rigorous inspection carried out at the NASCAR Research and Development Center located just outside Charlotte.
On Tuesday, the embattled crew chief and his organization made their case before the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel. By a unanimous decision, all penalties originally handed down by NASCAR were upheld.
“We’re disappointed with the outcome the way it was,” team owner Rick Hendrick declared after the ruling was handed down. “But we’re going to go ahead to the next level.”
Reporters who waited outside the R & D Center for the judgment asked Hendrick why he was choosing to continue the appeal process after Tuesday’s ruling. “Because I don’t accept it. Period,” he responed.
However, it may be best that he and Knaus just go ahead and accept it in the best interest of their team.
Hendrick said he will appeal this decision to the Chief Appellate Officer of NASCAR, John Middlebrook. He will also request that the suspensions be delayed until after Middlebrook rules. The hearing with Middlebrook likely won’t take place until at least after this weekend’s racing in Bristol.
With Middlebrook receiving a copy of the Tuesday ruling prior to his hearing with Knaus and Hendrick, it would seem highly unlikely that he would overturn a unanimous decision in this case, especially considering the vagaries of the NASCAR rule book.
And more, no matter how often it may be stated, Knaus’s previous track is no doubt working against him. He has been suspended on two previous occasions for similar offenses as this. Also, he was infamously caught on tape last year in Talladega instructing Johnson to bang up the rear of his car should he win the race. Human beings are making these ruling and those are things not easily put out of mind.
I have stated already that I do not believe Knaus violated any rule here because the car fit the templates. If NASCAR wants to measure C-posts they should make a template that does so. However, there is a time to know when to hold ‘em and to know when to fold ‘em. Rather than have this issue and it’s almost certain outcome drag on unnecessarily for the 48 team, Knaus and Hendrick should just go ahead and fold ‘em.
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