|Chad Knaus is back on the job.|
Two weeks after a three-member appeals panel voted unanimously to uphold the penalties assessed by NASCAR for a failed pre-qualifying inspection at last month’s Daytona 500, Middlebrook heard testimony from both Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR at the sanctioning body’s Research and Development Center. He eliminated the six-race suspensions assessed to Knaus and car chief Ron Malek, but let stand Knaus’ $100,000 fine. Both Jimmie Johnson and car owner of record Jeff Gordon will have 25 championship points restored to their totals. That decision pushes Johnson from 17th in Sprint Cup Series championship points to 11th, just two behind tenth-place Paul Menard.
Knaus and Malek will now be free to lead the No. 48 team this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Cal., rather than begin serving suspensions that would have sidelined them until Bojangles Southern 500 weekend at Darlington (SC) Raceway May 11-12.