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« Points reduction and suspensions removed from 48 team penalty | Main | Will fans return to the ‘old’ Bristol? »

Reduced penalty on 48 car reveals flaw in NASCAR inspection process

By admin | March 21, 2012

By Richard Allen


On Tuesday, the Chief Appellate Officer for NASCAR, John Middlebrook, ruled that the initial penalty levied by the sanctioning body against Hendrick Motorsports’ #48 car was too harsh. The CAO removed a 25 point reduction from Jimmie Johnson’s driver total as well as HMS(Jeff Gordon listed as owner) total in the owner standings. Also taken away were six week suspensions issued to crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec.

The only portion of the original penalty to withstand the Middlebrook decision was a $100,000 fine against Knaus.

But the fact that the decision was essentially a split of the original sanction raises questions. Was the car legal or illegal? If the car was indeed legal, then why was the fine left in place? If it was not legal, then why were the suspensions removed and the points given back?

The car could not have been both legal and illegal yet the Middlebrook ruling gives that impression.

What this appellate ruling really revealed is that there is a flaw in the NASCAR rulebook or the inspection process, or both. The rule in question is not written in definite terms and there is no template to fit the supposed offending body piece.

As has been widely reported, the #48 car arrived in Daytona with C-posts, the body pieces that extend down from the roof of the car to its rear quarter panels, that were deemed by on site inspectors to be outside allowable tolerances. However, the car did fit the templates at the track.

The violation in question refers to Section 20-2.1(E) of the rulebook. It states that “If in the judgment of NASCAR Officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted: Unapproved car body modifications.”

The key word in the statement above is judgment. It is no doubt there where Knaus and Hendrick made their strongest case against the ruling. And more, the phrase “not previously approved by NASCAR” would have provided leeway. HMS insisted that the car had passed the more rigorous inspection at NASCAR’s R&D Center in North Carolina and that it had been raced in the same condition multiple times during the 2011 season. It could very easily be construed that the offending parts had been approved by NASCAR upon the car’s pass through the R&D Center.

It seems a little unlikely that a team such as HMS took a car to the biggest race of the season that had not been touched since last year but if it is true that the car had passed through the R&D Center with those same C-posts, it certainly looks like the track inspection crew was out to prove a point or the R&D inspection crew is incompetent. Either is really bad.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that this ruling points to a flaw in the NASCAR inspection process. Something is either wrong at the R&D Center or the track and it needs to be corrected. Otherwise, there will be more embarrassing judgments against the organization that is supposed to be in charge of seeing that everything is on the up and up.

Here’s why the Knaus fine remained after other penalties were taken away(imo)

From February 29- Penalties against Knaus and 48 team were too severe

Topics: Articles |

7 Responses to “Reduced penalty on 48 car reveals flaw in NASCAR inspection process”

  1. Charles Says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 4:39 am


    You can talk tech issues all you want…what is the embarrassing thing for Nascar is how the G.M lobby and Hendrick is controling this sport…

    Here a 3 member panel whos resume is not so onesided is nolified…by a one single person whos is..

    Rich..not everyone is a Hendrick flavor of the month fan..or want to see G.M. get to dominate at will…putting someone like Middlbrook just confirms long help suspicions…they have controled it too long!

    There are more fans if you put together..Ford. Dodge and Toyota combined that the G.M…..and its this market that has lost interest in Nascar…

    One thing for sure..if Carroll Shelby was in John Middlebrooks position…and Jack Roush was the defendent…the talking heads would have been ‘outraged’…Roush would have been ‘demonized’ ..and the topic would have been on how Shelby got hired and was it right instead of tech issues…

  2. tyler west Says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I am so sick and tired of Rick Hendrick and all his BS! The guy gets what ever he wants, breaks rules where ever he wants and then slides his way out of it either through money and power or pathetic sympathy. Let’s not forget he should have done prison time, years back when he “was diagnosed woth cancer”, but he got sick went into treament, the charges disappeared and he was well again. They were caught cheating plain and simple, I don’t care if the car was run before. You’re stupid if you think these cars are not constantly improved uppon. They were caught, Hendrick cries to his buddies and everything is forgiven. Another thing I’m so sick of is the Speed channel crew blowing smoke up Hendricks rear, they keep claiming the right outcome happended but they must be as stupid as Bruton Smith for destroying the Bristol events. They have let a great sport become a bunch of BS to satisfy the folks at GM and of course poor old Rick Hendrick. I guess they should just let the people at Hendrick Motorsports and GM run the show. Nascar has always kissed GM’s ass. That BS with Stewart’s run to the championship was rigged as well. GM gets what it wants. Plain and simple. It’s a damn joke!

  3. Offkilter Says:
    March 22nd, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Funny stuff. Toyota is alowed to come into cup with an engine that is better than anything on the track at the time. Proof? Cronquist at jgr reverse engineers one and is the deciding factor for jgr to leave gm and go with toyota. He said he had room to work with toyota as to where he had about maxed out what he could do with the bowtie. Fords latest generation motor was designed with coolant flow as primary objective to allow more tape on the nose for downforce. And yet, we have arguements that gm is favorite and yota, dodge and ford are step children. Thats funny. Charles, your point of the majority of fans favoring all makes over gm is flawed. HMS drivers alone have the majority of the fan base covered and those boys have got bowtie decals on the nose. Your statement can only be true if fans don’t care what kind of make their favorite racer drives and i’m of the opinion they do.

  4. Charles Says:
    March 23rd, 2012 at 5:56 am


    Lets get the facts striaght…after GM won the majority of the “point titles” in the ninites..Daytona 500s, Talledaga, with Earnhart Sr. and Jeff Gordon…they get a new more powerful engine…the SB2…

    Then in 2008 after complete domination of point titles again, Daytona 500s etc what does NASCAR do…grant them another more powerful engine ….the RO7…

    You dont give someone more powerful engines after complete domination… if you are sincere about ‘even it up!

    Its funny all of the press never make mention of the advantage of the Chevy engine.. oh I forget…they have better drivers ….excuse me…but if anyone starts to outrun them…if always a rule change….

    Henrickor Chevys fans base alone will not sustain Nascar..the failed IROC series showed that…

    Some of us are tired of the ’status quo attitude that racing is not right unless G.M is dominate…and they pull for other brands…and have been sitting on the fence…there are a huge audience of car fans of other brands would come …but have better things to do than watch a 4 hr Chevy commerical every sunday!

  5. Offkilter Says:
    March 23rd, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Charles, isn’t it ford that had the latest powerplant upgrade?

  6. Charles Says:
    March 23rd, 2012 at 6:24 pm


    The first one since 1992 …..and GM has had 3 upgrade and a coupel of valve angle adjustments..

    Yor are only allowed to dominate with a ‘bowtie on the hood”

  7. Offkilter Says:
    March 23rd, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Charles, did ford present anything between 92 and the latest upgrade and get shot down by nascar? I dont remember it if they did. And if thats the case, how would that be nascars fault instead of ford’s? I just can’t fathom any conspiracies against ford or the others. If there was, we’d be hearing jack rousch crying to anyone that would listen every weekend.