Chad Knaus unloads the No. 48 car at Las Vegas - NASCAR photoEnlarge Photo
So much for the ability to appeal penalties meted by NASCAR. In a near six-hour session to appeal the suspension for No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec, together with a big $100,000 fine for Knaus and the loss of driver and entrant points of 25 each for driver Jimmie Johnson and owner Jeff Gordon, NASCAR's original findings were upheld.
The voting appeals panel of former Goodyear Racing chief Leo Mahl, USAC chairman John Capels and Dale Pinilis (of Bowman Gray Stadium) found that NASCAR acted correctly in not accepting the "C" pillar on the No. 48 Chevrolet in initial Daytona 500 tech inspection at Daytona International Speedway last month. No templates were placed on the car - it was an "eyeball" decision.
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick was adamant about appealing to the next level with chief appellate officer John Middlebrook: "Chad will be at Bristol (this weekend's race). I believe in my guys and I believe in the system," he said. "I don't accept this." It is uncertain when the next appeal will be heard, but as long as the process is ongoing, Knaus and Malec are able to work in the NASCAR garage. Should the final appeal not go their way, both are banned for six races.
The official statement from NASCAR read:
The penalties concern Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing;” Section 12-4(J): “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR Rule Book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the Event;” and Section 20-2.1(E): “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.”
This stemmed from an opening day inspection for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012.
The original penalties assessed prior to the deferral were:
Upon hearing the testimony, carefully reviewing the facts and historically comparative penalties, the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR.
The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer, who is Middlebrook.
Hendrick Motorsports immediately issued their own statement which said they will "request a hearing before the National Stock Car Racing chief appellate officer to continue its appeal of NASCAR sanctions related to the No. 48 Sprint Cup Series team.
"The panel was generous with its time today, and we appreciated the opportunity to talk through our concerns," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "We feel strongly about this issue and will continue to pursue it at the next level."
No adjustments to the No. 48 team, which finished second at Las Vegas on Sunday, are planned while the appeal is ongoing.