As we all know, NASCAR issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the No. 48 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as a result of rules infractions found on Feb. 17 during opening day inspection for the Daytona 500.
The penalties handed down upon the No. 48 car was due to 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). [NASCAR PR]
In other words, the C-posts which are next to the rear windows -pillars that come down from the roof to the rear quarter panels – were aerodynamically modified to the point that officials saw it to the “naked eye.” Hendrick Motorsports will present their case that the C-posts had passed inspections many times in the past, the sanctioning body confiscated the C-posts deemed illegal before they even went through tech, and templates were never placed on the car and that it was the same exact car had been to the R&D Center many times prior for tear down.
From what I understand, the template doesn’t go over the C-posts anyways. With that said, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said last month that teams “know they can’t mess with the areas outside of the templates.”
The penalties and suspensions Crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec received (originally suspended from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship events, suspended from NASCAR until April 18 and placed on NASCAR probation until May 9.) will not take effect until the appeals decision is made. Additionally, Knaus has been fined $100,000.
Driver Jimmie Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon have been penalized with the loss of 25 driver and 25 owner points, respectively.
Not until Tuesday morning prior to the hearing, Hendrick won’t know the identities of the three-member panel (two members and the chairman) that will hear the appeal. NASCAR has a 45 member appeal board and they rotate through for hearings. They are listed below:
National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer: John Middlebrook, retired GM Executive
- Mark Arute Stafford Motor Speedway chief operating officer and general manager
- Christiane Ayotte
- Buddy Baker Retired driver
- Lee Baumgarten Phoenix International Raceway director of operations
- Jeff Belskus
- Ed Bennett, Appellate Administrator
- John Bishop, Founder, IMSA
- Clay Campbell Martinsville Speedway president
- John Capels USAC chairman
- Joie Chitwood, Daytona International Speedway
- John Cooper Former president of Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Barbara Cromarty Riverhead Raceway (N.Y.) owner
- Doug Fritz Richmond International Raceway president
- John Gall
- Harry Gant Retired driver
- Richard Gore Old Dominion Speedway (Va.) owner
- Janet Guthrie Retired driver
- Russell Hackett Carraway Speedway (N.C.) owner
- David Hall Former co-founder and president of TNN/CMT
- Hurley Haywood
- Jack Housby President, Housby Trucking
- Bill Lester
- Shane Lewis
- Grant Lynch Talladega Superspeedway president
- Denis McGlynn Dover International Speedway president and CEO
- Leo Mehl Former director of Goodyear racing, former executive director of the Indy Racing League
- Bud Moore Retired car owner
- Steve Page Infineon Raceway president
- Dale Pinilis Bowman-Gray Stadium (N.C.) operator
- Cathy Rice South Boston Speedway (Va.) general manager
- Shawna Robinson, former driver
- Doug Rollins
- Jay Signore, former IROC series owner
- Lyn St. James Retired driver
- Mike Straubel
- H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler Jr. former Lowe’s Motor Speedway president
- Kevin Whitaker Greenville Pickens Speedway (S.C.) operator
- Jim Williams Irwindale Speedway (Calif.) president
- Jo DeWitt Wilson Former president of North Carolina Speedway
- Waddell Wilson Former crew chief/engine builder
- Robert Yates Retired car owner
The Hendrick team will present its case first – it, too, can bring anyone it wants but cannot bring legal counsel – and then NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby and Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton will present NASCAR’s side. The panel members can ask questions.
The panel will then discuss the case and make a decision, which most likely will be announced Tuesday afternoon.
Other suspensions/penalties/LARGE fines that have been handed down from NASCAR in the past:
#46-Carl Long, May 2009, Lowe’s Motor Speedway/Sprint Showdown, Oversized Engine, Charles Swing, $200,000/200, 12 race suspension
Richard Childress, June 6, Kansas Speedway, Altercation with Kyle Busch, $150,000, probation thru 12/2011
#33-Clint Bowyer, Sept. 2010, New Hampshire, Car Body Modification, Shane Wilson, $100,000/150, 6 races
#55-Michael Waltrip Racing, Feb. 2007, Daytona, Fuel/Additive, David Hyder $100,000/100 Indefinite Suspension
#24-Jeff Gordon/Hendrick Motorsports, July 2007, Sonoma, Front Fender Manipulation, Steve Letarte, $100,000/100, 6 races
#48-Jimmie Johnson/Hendrick Motorsports, July 2007, Sonoma, Front Fender Manipulation, Chad Knaus, $100,000/100, 6 races
#2-Kurt Busch/Penske Racing, June 2007, Dover, Endangering crew member, Drivers $100,000, Team/Driver 100 pts
#8-Dale Earnhardt Inc. May 2007, Darlington, Rear Wing Brackets, Tony Eury Jr. $100,000/100, 6 events
#24-Hendrick Motorsports May 1995, suspension parts, Ray Evernham $60,000/no suspensions
As of up to the current date, the APPEALS court results from 1999 include a total of 134 total appeals, 90 upheld, 32 reduced, 10 overturned and actually some appeals outrages, two were increased!
As of up to the current date, the FINAL APPEALS court results from 1999 include a total of 13 total appeals, eight upheld, four reduced and one overturned.
So, what happens to the fines once the drivers/owners pay? Starting in 2008 all money collected from fines issued to drivers go to the NASCAR Foundation for its charitable initiatives, before the money collected from driver/crew member penalties are generally placed into the Drivers Points Fund awarded at the end of the season.
On “RaceDay” which aired on SPEED prior to the Kobalt TOOLS 400 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Kyle Petty went into hyper drive about “violators should be judged by their peers — current drivers, owners and engineers — not by track presidents and others who have a vested interest in NASCAR as a business.”
The odds are not in Hendrick’s favor because the commission seldom overturns decisions, nor will they see a reduction in the fines /suspensions – any reductions handed down have been in the Nationwide Series, and once in 2008 with Robby Gordon’s Cup team. Stay tuned for updates.