NASCAR dropped the hammer on Hendrick Motorsports, driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus today for body violations detected during pre-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500.
|Knaus socked by NASCAR|
The No. 48 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-2.1E (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 sanctioning body penalized Johnson 25 championship driver points, docked team-owner Rick Hendrick an identical number of owner points, suspended Knaus and car chief Ron Malek for six races and fined Knaus $100,000. The monetary penalty is less than the $200,000 fine assessed to Carl Long for an illegal engine at the 2008 All-Star Race. The point deduction leaves Johnson -- who finished 42nd in the season-opening Daytona 500 after crashing on the opening lap -- at minus-23 points heading to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend. He becomes only the second driver in NASCAR history to have a negative point total, after Michael Waltrip was docked 100 points for illegal fuel additives prior to the 2007 Daytona 500.
Hendrick has promised to appeal any sanctions.