Crew chief Knaus responds to NASCAR penalty

3/2/2012 11:46:30 AM

Two days after NASCAR handed him a six-race suspension and a $100,000 fine, Knaus publicly commented on the penalty he and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team received for an illegal part found on Johnson's car during the February 17 opening-day inspection for the Daytona 500.

During inspection, NASCAR officials found the C-post on Johnson's car to be illegal. A C-post is the panel that connects the rear of the car's roof to the top of the rear quarter panel or deck lid area. The part was confiscated and then sent to NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina for further evaluation.

NASCAR said at the time of the incident it planned on issuing any penalties it deemed necessary to Johnson's team after Speedweeks had concluded at Daytona.

Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon were penalized with a loss of 25 driver and owner points. Car chief Ron Malec also received a six-race suspension.

"We didn't expect this," Knaus said. "It's not the way that we wanted to start off the season. It is good to have the support of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. We will go after this thing, hopefully get it resolved and beaten and go back to business. Right now, we are focused on getting through Phoenix and trying to win this championship this year."

Since Hendrick Motorsports is appealing the penalty, Knaus and Malec are allowed to participate in this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race activities at Phoenix International Raceway. The race is scheduled for Sunday. NASCAR has yet to announce a date for the appeal.

"We are very fortunate to have this ability to go through the appeal process," Knaus added. "That is something NASCAR put in place a long time ago. I'm glad that they do. It's unfortunate that teams have to take advantage of the appeal process from time to time, but it is good that it is there. We have seen something's changed, reversed, minimized and some maximized at different times. Hopefully, we will get it going in our favor."

Johnson is minus-23 in points as of now. He earned just two points for finishing 42nd in last Monday night's rain-delayed Daytona 500. Johnson was one of six drivers involved in a crash after the completion of the first lap.

He is 70 markers behind Daytona 500 winner and current points leader Matt Kenseth.

"It's certainly not a position we want to be in, but there's a lot of racing between now and September at Richmond, the cut-off for the Chase is," Johnson said. "Right now, what we're focused on is doing the best job we can and get as many points as we possibly can."

Knaus is also not worried about this penalty tarnishing his reputation.

"Honestly, I'm here to do the best I can No. 48 team, and that is all that really matters to me," he noted. "As far as my reputation goes, I'm not too concerned about that. What we want to do is go out there and do the best thing we can for Hendrick Motorsports, the best thing for [team sponsor] Lowe's and try to win races and championships."

Knaus has been suspended from NASCAR competition multiple times in the past, particularly for violations that occurred in February 2006 at Daytona and June 2007 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA.