March 13, 2012  |   By Tom Jensen - SPEED

Hendrick Loses Appeal

Courtesy of Speed.com

A three-member panel today unanimously upheld NASCAR’s penalties levied against the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team for illegal C-posts discovered during pre-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500.


Hendrick Motorsports will have one final chance at getting the penalties overturned, when it will go before NASCAR chief appellate officer John Middlebrook, a former General Motors executive.

Middlebrook has heard one prior appeal, in 2010, when Clint Bowyer’s Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet failed post-race inspection after winning the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bowyer’s points penalty was upheld in that case, but crew chief Shane Wilson saw his punishment reduced from a six-week suspension and a $150,000 fine to four weeks and $100,000.

No schedule for the final Hendrick appeal has been set.

Asked why he will appeal again, team owner Rick Hendrick said, “I don’t accept it. Period.”

The Hendrick appeal began at 9 a.m. ET at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C. and ended at about 2:30 p.m. The three members of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel who heard the case were ex-USAC chairman John Capels, longtime Goodyear executive Leo Mehl and race track operator Dale Pinilis.

“I stand firmly behind our guys, but I do applaud NASCAR in giving us a process that we can present our side of things and then try to come to a conclusion,” said Hendrick. “So, for that I’m very appreciative of the system that NASCAR has in place.”

The original penalty ruling was that the No. 48 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-2.1E (if in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted – unapproved car body modifications).

Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec were suspended for six Sprint Cup races and Knaus was fined $100,000. But both will be at Bristol, pending the outcome of the final appeal.

Driver Jimmie Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon were penalized with the loss of 25 driver and 25 owner points, respectively.

In February 2006, Knaus was suspended for four races, after the rear window of Johnson’s car failed to fit the template following Daytona 500 qualifying. Johnson won the Daytona 500 that year with interim crew chief Darian Grubb.

In June 2007, Knaus got six weeks off when he was suspended for illegally modifying the front fenders of Johnson’s car at Infineon Raceway.

Both times, Johnson went on to win the Sprint Cup championship that season.

After the hearing, Hendrick Motorsports issued the following statement:

“Hendrick Motorsports will request a hearing before the National Stock Car Racing chief appellate officer to continue its appeal of NASCAR sanctions related to the No. 48 Sprint Cup Series team.

“The panel was generous with its time today, and we appreciated the opportunity to talk through our concerns,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “We feel strongly about this issue and will continue to pursue it at the next level.”

“Adjustments to No. 48 team personnel are not planned while the appeal is ongoing.”