Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hendrick Motorsports 48 Team Daytona Penalties Stand After Appeal

Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR

While many in the racing world have been able to move on from 2012 Daytona International Speedway Speedweeks that ended in dramatic fashion with the most bizarre Daytona 500 on record, the #48 Chevrolet, piloted by Jimmie Johnson and fielded by Hendrick Motorsports have somewhat been captive by actions that occurred more than 3 weeks ago. On Tuesday, the Hendrick Motorsports #48 team approached the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel in an effort to bring more beneficial closure to their Speedweeks nightmare.

Going back to Saturday, February 17th at the Daytona International Speedway, the #48 Chevrolet Impala was deemed to have a roof C-pillar post out of conformity with the strict NASCAR tolerances. While the #48 Hendrick Motorsport team and driver Jimmie Johnson were able to proceed through the remainder of Daytona Speedweeks once their NASCAR Sprint Cup vehicle was replaced. Bringing back memories of the 2006 season where the #48 team was penalized for failing pre-race inspection. Unlike the 2006 Daytona 500 where Johnson won without his regular crew chief, Chad Knaus was allowed to stay with the team for the 2012 Daytona 500 as the penalty for the C-post issue would not be assessed until following the event.

When the penalty was handed down by NASCAR, the #48 Hendrick Motorsport driver and team first received a hefty points reduction of 25 points apiece. NASCAR also suspended car chief Ron Melac and #48 car crew chief Chad Knaus for six races in addition to probation until May 9th. Knaus was also assessed a $100,000 monetary fine.

Hendrick Motorsports immediately filed an appeal of the NASCAR penalties stemming from the failure in technical inspection at Daytona. Appearing in front of the three-member National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel consisting of John Capels, Leo Mehl and Dan Pinilis, the case for the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team was heard with the team expressing confidence they could prevail. NASCAR countered in the appeal with representation from the Research and Development describing the infaction as well as the reason for the penalties.

Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade/Autostock

Unanimously, the three-judge panel decided to uphold all the original penalties levied against the #48 Chevrolet team. “The panel was generous with its time today, and we appreciated the opportunity to talk through our concerns,” said the car co-owner Rick Hendrick in a press transcript after the appeal decision in front of the three-member panel. A final avenue for appeal by the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team exists with the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel chief appellate John Middlebrook. Affirming a commitment to the crew of his race team, Hendrick stated  "But we’re going to go ahead to the next level and present our case one more time. So I stand firmly behind our guys." When asked why not accept the panel's decision, a defiant Rick Hendrick stated directly, "I don’t accept it. Period."

No date has yet been set for hearing the final appeal of Hendrick Motorsports. With the final appeal pending, the #48 Chevrolet will still be operating as usual at this weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec will be present with Jimmie Johnson's car.

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