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Biggest Events of NASCAR 2012: Chad Knaus Escapes Potential Suspension

By admin | December 12, 2012

Chad Knaus, seen here talking with Jimmie Johnson, escaped suspension during the 2012 season. 

By Richard Allen

Prior to qualifying for the 2012 Daytona 500, NASCAR officials announced that they did not like the look of Jimmie Johnson’s #48 car and had required his team to replace one of the body pieces that seemed to have been “massaged” a bit more than they would have liked. The offending part, known as the C-post, was replaced and the car was then approved for competition.

The C-posts are the body pieces that extend down from the roof of the car to the rear quarter panels.

Although the car was approved to race after the change, NASCAR intended to issue penalties to the Hendrick Motorsports team for the “violation” on the car. Granted, there was no template at the time for that particular piece, but the sanctioning body believed there had been intent on the team’s part to get an unfair aerodynamic advantage over the competition.

As a result, the Daytona Beach, Florida based organization levied strong sanctions against HMS, driver Jimmie Johnson, car chief Ron Malec, and perhaps most significantly, crew chief Chad Knaus. A reduction of 25 points was handed down against the team and driver and a fine of $100,000 was issued to Knaus. Additionally, Knaus and Malec were to be suspended for six races.

HMS immediately announced they would appeal the stiff sanctions, and thus, keep Knaus and Malec on the job until that appeal could be heard. Finally, on March 20th, NASCAR Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook overturned the points reductions and the suspensions.

Strangely, the $100,000 to Knaus was left in place.

Immediately, cries of a conspiracy rang out from fans and even some media members. Middlebrook had been a former executive with General Motors and was believed to have a longstanding friendship with HMS team owner Rick Hendrick. Of course, HMS uses GM(Chevrolet) cars.

NASCAR Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook overturned the Knaus suspension.

It was difficult to ignore those cries as Middlebrook’s ruling seemed rather odd at the least and contrived at the worst. Either there had been an infraction or there hadn’t. Why leave the fine in place when the rest of the initial penalties were taken away?

In the end, many came to see the ruling as an instance in which a repeat offender, Knaus, had gotten away with breaking the rules because of his ties to powerful Hendrick Motorsports. Others saw it as an example of the ambiguity in the sanctioning body’s rule book and a rightful decision based on that lack of clarity.

Either way, Chad Knaus came very close to being suspended for six weeks as Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief but ultimately did not have to serve that penalty. Johnson went on to qualify for the Chase for the Championship but lost out in a close battle with Brad Keselowski after mechanical issues in the season finale at Homestead ended all hopes of a sixth Sprint Cup title.

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7 Responses to “Biggest Events of NASCAR 2012: Chad Knaus Escapes Potential Suspension”

  1. Richard Allen Says:
    December 12th, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Do you believe the Chad Knaus suspension was rightfully overturned or should he have been made to serve it?

    Voice your opinion below:

  2. Steven Says:
    December 12th, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Just another example of Nascar taking care of Mr. H .

  3. Tony Geinzer Says:
    December 12th, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    I, felt to this day glad as the wind we didn’t see Greatness be Permenantly Renewed. To this day, Rich, the Anyone But Hendrick Employee National Fan Club was happy not to see a tie or a Hendrick Employee do the DJ Khaled Dance as I would have been hurt if JJ won 6.

  4. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    December 13th, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I think it was sour grapes as people love to scream about the 48 team when in effect they do as the old boys did back in the day and take each rule to the breaking point. Why not? The heros did so why not now as the 48 boys do and sometime get caught and then sometimes not.

  5. Wayne Hartsock Says:
    December 13th, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I think cheaten Chad almost got away with another one. These guys are always on the edge and got caught stepping over the line. What would’ve happened if that had been Kyle Bushes team? Just like Gordon not being suspended for retaliation on Bower. Hendricks rules.

  6. Beentherebefore Says:
    December 14th, 2012 at 5:53 am

    Just another example of the depth of Big Momma GM’s hooks into Nascar. Mr Middlebrook should never have risen to a position where he has a say in any Nascar penalties or appeals.

    CHEVCAR! Been that way since 1972 when GM demanded the banning of the Chrysler and Ford Hemi motors as their price to re-enter Nascar competition with factory supported teams.

  7. Richard Allen Says:
    December 14th, 2012 at 6:32 am

    I am one who believes in letting teams have some leeway in terms of car setups. And if there is no rule against or no template for it, I find it hard to penalize Knaus or anyone else for trying something new.

    That said, the fact that it was repeat offender Knaus and HMS, and the way the penalty got overturned just had a certain stench about it for a lot of fans.