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After Wednesday's revelation that NASCAR would be fining, penalizing and suspending No. 48 Sprint Car Series crew chief Chad Knaus, car chief Ron Malec, driver Jimmie Johnson (aka 'five-time" for the championships he's won) and owner Jeff Gordon, team owner Rick Hendrick said Hendrick Motorsports would contest the penalties that arose from Knaus' use of "unapproved" body parts in the "C" pillar of the Chevrolet.
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Knaus struck back on Friday while at Phoenix International Speedway for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 on Sunday. Discussing the penalties as he appeals the discipline imposed by NASCAR - and continuing to work on the No. 48 Chevrolet during his appeal - Knaus was "deeply saddened. We didn't expect this and it's not the way we wanted to start off the season."
Knaus claims that NASCAR did a visual check of the car and never placed its templates on it; he also said the same car configuration has been used by his team for the previous four restrictor plate races with no penalties imposed. "The templates were never actually put on the car; it was a visual inspection at that point and we never got the opportunity to actually present that under templates. That is why we're going through the appeal," he said.
"This is not what we had expected rolling into Daytona at all," Knaus continued and he confirmed this car "ran all four [plate] races last year and has been through inspection a lot." Normally if NASCAR finds something it doesn't like, a car can get pulled from the inspection line and is allowed to be fixed and to go through the line again, usually without this type of penalty. Knaus strongly feels the car should have been measured before the penalty was handed down.
Still, he feels "fortunate to have this ability to go through the appeal process. That is something NASCAR put in place a long time ago; I'm glad that they do. It's unfortunate that teams have to take advantage of the appeal process from time to time, but it is good that it is there."
With the Hendrick resources and his team owner firmly behind him, Knaus believes "Mr Hendrick has taken a special interest in this; he'll be pretty heavily ingrained in it. There will be some resources from the No. 48 team and from a lot of people at Hendrick Motorsports. We do a really good job of documenting what it is that we do to these race cars and how they have been changed. We all know the rules change quite a bit," Knaus noted.
"We document everything just so we don't get ourselves in this position. We feel like we've got a pretty good jump on what it is we need to adjust." Chad Knaus is moving ahead, even as he's got one look at the rules and their ramification: "I cannot wait to get that Kobalt Chevrolet in Victory Lane this weekend," he said as he made his way back to the garage and back to work. "I love my job, every aspect of it. This is an unfortunate part of the job."
With the penalties in place, Jimmie Johnson is currently in last place in Sprint Cup Series points, -23. The same applies to Jeff Gordon, who is listed as the owner of his car.