NASCAR has docked Jimmie Johnson 25 points and banned crew chief Chad Knaus for 6 races after the no.48 Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet was found to be running illegal C-Posts before practice for the Budweiser Shootout. The 5-time champion, who was classified 42nd in the Daytona 500 after an early crash, will therefore go to Phoenix with a 23 point deficit, his worst start to a season ever. Loosing Knaus, who has accompanied him to each of his Sprint Cup championships, until April 18th, would only make Johnson's recovery even more of an uphill climb.
Team owner Rick Hendrick has announced that he plans to appeal the ruling; however the fact that this is the ninth infraction committed by Knaus- who was also suspended back in 2006 – means that a reversal is unlikely. Unless the penalty is rescinded, Knaus will also have to pay a $100,000 fine.
“Our organization respects NASCAR and the way the sanctioning body governs our sport,” said Hendrick. “In this case, though, the system broke down, and we will voice our concerns through the appeal process.”
Meanwhile, Elliott Sadler has said that Johnson has no hard feelings towards him after the returning Richard Childress Racing driver wrecked him on only the second lap of the Daytona 500. Sadler, who is ineligible to score points in Sprint Cup having chosen to score points with RCR in the Nationwide Series, was widely criticised for racing too aggressively too early, with Kyle Busch remarking “seriously, are we all kidding ourselves? We just sat around for 36 hours [due to the rain delay] and we wreck on lap one,” and David Ragan, who was unable to avoid the spinning Johnson and was also out on the spot, labelling Sadler a “bonehead.”
However after calling to apologise on Tuesday, Sadler said that things were all good between them.
“I just kind of got into the back of Jimmie, it was 100-percent my fault,” Sadler said on SPEED Race Hub.
“I just probably really shouldn’t have been racing that hard, that soon. I snuck up on him a lot quicker than I thought. Jimmie handled it like he handles everything else. He’s just a class act and a good guy. It was just a tough way to get the racing season started.”