Tag:Jimmie Johnson
Posted on: March 9, 2012 11:42 am

Hendrick appeal set for Tuesday

By Pete Pistone

NASCAR announced the Hendrick Motorsports appeal for penalties levied in teh aftermath of the No. 48 team failing pre-Daytona 500 inspection will be heard next Tuesday.

Hendrick Motorsports and crew chief Chad Knaus will both get to plead their case before the National Stock Car Racing Commission’s Appeals Board.

Knaus and the team appealed the $100,000 fine and six race suspension for NASCAR's contention that illegally modified c-posts were found on Jimmie Johnson's car during Daytona inspection on February 17.

Hendrick's case states the car was presented to officials in Daytona after running at two restrictor plate races in 2011. The team questions NASCAR's inspection procedure of only a visual inspection and not running the car through the full template inspection process.

Tuesday's appearance will be Knaus’ fourth before the board; he had a 2005 suspension and fine overturned on appeal, but was denied in three other cases.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:44 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:18 am

Idle Thoughts: Pressure already on for some

By Pete Pistone

  Crew Members
(This scene has been all too familiar to Kasey Kahne in the first two weeks of the season - Getty Images)

Two races do not make a season by any means. However there is a group of drivers who come into Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway already in need of a good finish.

The opening weeks in Daytona and Phoenix have not gone very well for some high profile names most expected to be factors in 2012. While there is certainly time to get things back on track, you wouldn’t blame these drivers for perhaps grabbing that steering wheel a little tighter Sunday in Vegas:


Kasey Kahne

This was supposed to be the breakout year for Kahne who finally made the move to Hendrick Motorsports after his limbo season in 2011 at Red Bull. But so far Kahne has had nothing but trouble and a lot of damaged racecars to show for his effort. A crash-filled Speedweeks rolled into another accident for Kahne early in last Sunday’s Phoenix race knocking him from contention in a race he was considered a favorite to win. The usually calm Kahne was frustrated after his early exit at PIR.

"I've been so excited about it, and I was excited the whole offseason and couldn't wait for the season to get here," Kahne said. "I show up at Phoenix, we're the best car all day Friday, top two cars all day yesterday, would have been the same today. I just need to calm the (blank) down."

Crew chief Kenny Francis will help Kahne do just that and there’s no reason to write this team off just yet. A top ten here and a top five there should be all the No. 5 Hendrick team needs in the coming weeks to shake the disappointment of the early going and begin to fulfill the high preseason expectations.


A.J. Allmendinger

Penske Racing’s newest driver has also endured a crash-filled opening two races of the season and finds himself 25<sup>th</sup> in the standings. That’s not what the former Richard Petty Motorsports driver expected to happen when he got the call to drive for his hero Roger Penske.

"Honestly, it was a bit of a frustrating weekend especially on the heels of Daytona,” Allmendinger said after eventually finishing in position 18 Sunday in Phoenix but not before getting swept up in a multi-car crash earlier in the race. “I've always run well here, so I came in with my goal being a top five or top ten at least.  We just couldn't get the car dialed in from the start.”

What may compound Allmendinger’s issues going forward is Penske’s announcement to switch from Dodge to Ford in 2013. The company is now faced with the task of ramping up for next year only two races into the current campaign while trying to focus on Allmendinger and teammate Brad Keselowski this season. Allmendinger is working on a one year contract as well so the stress level may be on the rise in the No. 22 camp unless things turnaround quickly.

Jamie McMurray

The new season has been a repeat of the dismal campaign of a year ago that team owner Chip Ganassi referred to as pathetic. McMurray has dropped all the way to position 35 in the point standings and suffered through a pair of disappointing outings in Daytona and Phoenix. He survived a lap 134 tangle with Allmendinger and Paul Menard only to have his engine expire in the late stages of the race.

“I don't know the motor blew up again. I don't know what happened there. It started missing and started smoking and just quit running, tough day," McMurray said.

Those engine issues have to be disconcerting to the Ganassi team, which worked so hard in the off season to find more speed and reliability under the hood. If that becomes a trend again for McMurray and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, Ganassi may use a much more negative word to describe 2012.


Jimmie Johnson

The consensus is Johnson will recover from the early season challenge of a 25 point penalty for pre-Daytona 500 inspection infractions and a forty-second place finish in “The Great American Race.” But the reality is the five-time champion comes to Las Vegas 71 points out of the lead. He finished fourth Sunday in Phoenix to prove there’s really nothing wrong with the 48 team on a whole and remains positive about what lies ahead despite the obstacles.

“It is going to make it exciting,” said crew chief Chad Knaus, who awaits to appeal the penalty and six-race suspension handed down by NASCAR. “That is one thing that we typically try to do here with the No. 48 team. We somehow or another we seem to get through adversity pretty well.

“I’m not saying we like a challenge like this, but I’m pretty sure we will rise to the occasion.”

Johnson has a couple of things on his side to rebound – time and the wild card berths available to make the Chase.

“The end result is winning races,” Johnson said. “The worst-case scenario would be fighting for a wild card spot and that boils down to winning races. There’s a lot of racing between now and September in Richmond, the cutoff for the Chase. Right now, we’re focused on doing the best job we can and the most points we possibly can.”

He’s made comebacks before but Johnson has never been in position to have to make one this early in a season.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:41 am

Audio: Robin Pemberton on appeal timeline

Posted by Pete Pistone


NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton explained the timeline for the Hendrick Motorsports appeal process regarding penalties levied against the No. 48 team at Daytona when he visited with SIRIUS/XM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive" on Tuesday.

Pemberton said the process was moving forward and he expected the hearing to tak eplace within the next two weeks.

Until the appeal is heard, crew chief Chad Knaus will not begin serving his six-week suspension until a final decision is reached. As he was in Phoenix last week, Knaus will work with the 48 team in Las Vegas this weekend.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:41 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 11:48 am

Chad Knaus surprised by penalties

By Pete Pistone

  Jimmie Johnson (L) Talks
(Knaus is with Johnson and the 48 team this week after the Daytona penalties until the appeal is heard)

Chad Knaus
maintained his innocence regarding the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet failing pre-Daytona inspection and completely surprised by the penalty handed down by NASCAR in the aftermath.

Knaus met with the media Friday morning at Phoenix International Raceway and said he's not sure why Jimmie Johnson's car didn't pass inspection and why the subsequent penalties announced by NASCAR were so severe.

"We do everything we can to build the best race cars we possibly can to bring to the racetrack, and that's what we do," said Knaus, who was fined $100,000 and placed on a six race suspension foe the infractions. "Unfortunately, they didn't like something and we've got to address that." 

The parts and pieces in question were the C-Posts of the No. 48 Chevrolet but Knaus says NASCAR inspectors didn't put the car through the inspection templates but rather was pulled out of line and deemed illegal by a visual inspection.

That alone seems to be the sticking point for teamowner Rick Hendrick, who has stated a plan to appeal the penalties, which is why Knaus was allowed to participate in Phoenix this weekend.

"It was just a visual inspection at that point," Knaus said. "We never actually got the opportunity to present that under the templates. So it's unfortunate. There's a bit of subjectiveness to it. That's why we're going through the appeal." 

Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon also face penalties of 25 driver and owner points respectively, discipline that if it sticks through the appeal process would put the 48 team deep in the hole in the race for the championship early in the season.

“Obviously, I’m deeply saddened of course," Knaus said. "We didn’t expect this.  It’s not the way that we wanted to start off the season.  It is good to have the support of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.  We will go after this thing, hopefully get it resolved and beaten and go back to business.  Right now we are focused on getting through Phoenix and trying to win this championship this year.” 

Knaus is a many time offender and has been suspended more than a time or two during his tenure with Hendrick. But he's not sure if that past track record played any part in how the sanctioning body viewed this situation.

“I don’t know.  That is difficult for me to say.  You would have to go ask NASCAR about that,” he said.

Knaus is not worried about how this latest example of running afoul of the rules may impact his reputation with fans or inside the garage area. The crew chief is only focused on winning races and getting Johnson back into the title hunt in 2012.

Honestly, I’m here to do the best I can No. 48 team, and that is all that really matters to me," he said.  "As far as my reputation goes, I’m not too concerned about that. What we want to do is go out there and do the best thing we can for Hendrick Motorsports, the best thing for Lowe’s and try to win races and championships.” 

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 7:05 pm

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Illegal C-Posts at Daytona were the latest infractions on the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet - Getty)

Chad Knaus
is no stranger to being penalized by NASCAR. 

In fact this latest infraction and punishment would be the third time the Hendrick Motorsports crew chief got in hot water just at Daytona alone. 

Knaus was fined $25,000 and Jimmie Johnson hit with a 25 point penalty in July of 2002 when the 48 Chevy was found to have illegal rear trailing arms which dropped the back of the car lower to the ground. 

In 2006, Knaus was ejected from the track, fined $25,000 and handed a four-race suspension for installing an adjustable rear window to help the aerodynamics. 

Of course there are other examples of the Knaus ingenuity during his NASCAR career including a 2007 incident at Infineon Raceway for a body violation that resulted in a six-race suspension. 

He’s been relatively infraction free of late, at least in the suspension department, but last fall generated a lot of attention at Talladega when he was overheard instructing Johnson to “crack the back” of his car into the wall if he won the race because the rear end was too low to pass post inspection. 

So with that body of work already on his record, it’s no wonder NASCAR came down as hard as it did this time around with a six-race suspension, $100,000 fine and 25-point penalties in the driver and owner departments.

Such a repeat offender was bound to get the book thrown at him at some point.

“It certainly makes you scratch your head,” said NASCAR president Mike Helton when the Daytona inspection infractions were announced two weeks ago. “What we’ve learned over time is to, in the heat of the battle, try to accomplish what we immediately are after, which is to get all the cars inspected and get them on the race track and then sit back and kind of digest it all.

“But you do kind of scratch your head on a name that reoccurs.”

There’s a school of thought that believes Knaus is simply doing his job, trying to find that gray area where the NASCAR rulebook ends and ingenuity takes over.

NASCAR’s history is full of cheating incidents including the very first race the sanctioning body ever ran in 1949 when apparent winner Herbert Westmoreland's 1947 Ford was found to have illegal rear springs in post inspection and the victory was handed to second place Jim Roper.

But in order for the sport to have credibility there has to be a rulebook and NASCAR has to enforce said rules.

Since the advent of the “Car of Tomorrow” in 2007, NASCAR has made it clear the sanctioning body would not tolerate tampering of any kind with the Sprint Cup machine. The biggest and smallest names in the sport have all felt the wrath of NASCAR when the rules were compromised.

NASCAR has had no problem increasing those penalties over the years to get its zero tolerance point across.

"Now if this penalty won't stop it, we have no problems ramping up," Sprint Cup director John Darby said back when Knaus and fellow Hendrick crew chief were penalized in Sonoma. "We can keep going, and we will, until we get the results we're looking for."

Which is why this potential six-race time out for Knaus makes sense. A multiple time offender as he is, Knaus deserves more scrutiny.

Clearly the fines, penalties and suspensions that have come before haven’t impacted Knaus’ penchant for thinking too far outside of the box.

My guess is even this time around it won’t change that outlook.

But NASCAR is doing the right thing with this unprecedented disciplinary action.

And somewhere down the road when Knaus decides to hang up his crew chief uniform, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a job offer come his way in Daytona Beach.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 4:37 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 6:57 pm

Poll Position: Will Jimmie Johnson make Chase?

Jimmie Johnson ran just 1 lap in the Daytona 500 before a wreck took him out of contention (US Presswire)


Will Jimmie Johnson recover from 25-point penalty to make the Chase?

Pete Pistone

Jimmie Johnson's challenge to get back to the top of the Sprint Cup mountain as a six-time champion became a bit more difficult with the pending six race suspension of Chad Knaus and the 25 point penalty for the team's Daytona infractions. But JJ and the 48 team can absolutely overcome the obstacle.

In an odd way, the hole Johnson finds himself in, may actually provide even more motivation for the team.

Johnson has dealt with running without Knaus before, winning the 2006 Daytona 500 with interim crew chief Darian Grubb guiding the way as Knaus sat out a suspension. As it was then, the Hendrick organization has a wealth of talent at its disposal and perhaps more resources than any other team in the Sprint Cup Series.

If the six race Knaus suspension sticks after the team's appeal, I have no doubt someone will come from the ranks to crew chief the 48 and Johnson won't skip a beat.

Knaus won't be able to be at the track during the forced vacation, but he'll still be very much a part in the planning and preparation process back at the shop, ensuring Johnson has a potent piece for the six races. Johnson has talked a great deal about learning lessons after his run of five straight titles ended last year and how the experience provided motivation for 2012. This misstep by Knaus will simply add to the determination level.

I picked Johnson to be my 2012 champ and this doesn't change my mind.

Brian De Los Santos

In light of his disastrous finish (start?) in the Daytona 500 where he collected just 2 points after wrecking on Lap 2, a 25-point penalty would seem a mighty big  hole to have to dig out of. But I'm going to say he still makes the Chase.

Subtract 25 points from his regular-season total last year and he still would have made the Chase comfortably. Of course, he had only four finishes outside the top 20 and none worse than 31st in the 26 races.

He's already been dinged with one bad finish -- which you can almost count as two bad finishes after you tack on the penalty -- so there's no a lot of room for error. But a similar campaign to what he had last season should still put him in the mix for a Chase berth.

There's a little less room for error, but if anybody can do it, it's the five-time champion 48 team, even without the services of Chad Knaus for six races.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:43 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 3:10 pm

NASCAR penalizes Jimmie Johnson's team

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Johnson goes to this weekend's race in Phoenix with a -23 point total in the Sprint Cup standings)

NASCAR has suspended Jimmie Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus six races as part of penalties levied to the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team as a result of rules infractions found at Daytona 500 pre-inspection.

Additionally, Johnson was docked 25 driver points and the team 25 owner points while Knaus was fined $100,000.

Because of his 42nd-place finish in Daytona, Johnson now goes to Phoenix this weekend with negative 23 points.

NASCAR confiscated illegal C-Posts found on the Lowe's Chevrolet during the Feb. 17 inspection.

Johnson and car chief Ron Malec were placed on probation until May 9.

Hendrick Motorsports announced it would appeal the penalty imemdiately.

"Our organization respects NASCAR and the way the sanctioning body governs our sport,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “In this case, though, the system broke down, and we will voice our concerns through the appeal process.”

NASCAR has agreed to defer the suspensions until after the appeal process.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 8:07 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 1:26 am

Video: Johnson, Patrick involved in Lap 2 crash

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Well it didn't take long for the first wreck of the rain-delayed Daytona 500. On the second lap, Jimmie Johnson got loose after a tap from behind by Elliott Sadler. Johnson slammed the wall and David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch were collected in the aftermath.

Patrick was involved in a wreck in every race she was entered during Daytona Speedweeks.

Jimmie Johnson


"Yes, I'm ok. That side hit was hard. We were all just trying to make our lane work. A lot of energy in the lane. I was kind of pushing the No. 78 (Regan Smith) a little bit. I could feel some help from behind. Just turned me around. Sent me down to the inside lane and back up to the outside lane. When I was l sitting in the middle of the race track, I knew at some point someone was going to come along unfortunately. David Ragan had nowhere to go. I unfortunately got drilled by him pretty hard.

"I'm just really, really bummed to start the season this way. For all the hard work that has gone into getting this Lowe's Chevrolet ready for tonight; we didn't get to complete two-and-a-half miles of green flag racing. So, I’m pretty bummed."

Daytona Speedweeks
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