The hammer came down yesterday for Chad Knaus. Jimmie Johnson’s car failed opening-day inspection. His car was found to have an illegal C-post. A C-post is a body panel that runs from the rear of the roof to the deck lid. any kind of modification can give the car an aerodynamic advantage. NASCAR has suspended Chad Knaus for 6 races and docked $100,000. Jimmie Johnson has been docked 25 driver points. Hendrick Motorsports is appealing the suspension.
This is not the first time Chad has been suspended by NASCAR, but it has been the first time since 2007 when he was suspended in 2007 for 6 weeks. NASCAR has suspended Chad 4 times. So this begs the question, is the punishment too harsh for Chad?
I have been on the fence about this question. On one hand Jimmie’s car that had the illegal part had not even seen the track. So technically, Jimmie didn’t get an unfair advantage. But Chad is a repeat offender. NASCAR I am sure has been scratching their head on this one. One would think after his suspension in 2007, the message would have been received. With repeat offenders, you have to continue to amp up the punishments to try to get the crew chiefs to understand you don’t mess with car. If this had been a first time offense for Chad I would be all over this one saying it was way too harsh. But I with his history of violations, I believe NASCAR had to issue the 6 race suspension.
There is great pressure on not only Chad, but other crew chiefs in the garage. NASCAR is a sport of performance and if you aren’t performing you are out of a job and probably sponsorship. After all NASCAR is a business. The crew chief’s job is to set up the car each week to be better than everyone else on the track. The pressure to win not only races, but championships at HMS is very high. I can’t imagine what kind of pressure Chad is under every week. Chad’s job is try to push the envelope to get everything out of Jimmie’s car. All crew chief’s do this on a weekly basis. The #48 team is probably scrutinized more than other teams I suspect. I mean he is a 5-time champion and is a threat to win every week. That is why I think Chad would be watchful of trying to modify the car that would call his actions into question.
Chad was not the only that received punishment. Car chief Ron Malec has also been suspended for 6 races. Car owner Jeff Gordon has been docked 25 owner points. Jimmie Johnson has been docked 25 driver points. With Johnson’s finish this past Monday night, he left Daytona with only 2 points. Now with this penalty, he will be heading into Phoenix -23 points and 43rd in the standings.
Jimmie shouldn’t worry about his standings at this point in the season. This is only the 2nd week of the season and there is still a lot of racing left. Remember, he is the only driver to make the Chase every year since it’s inception. I don’t doubt Jimmie will be there challenging for the 2012 championship.