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MONOPOLY MANAGEMENT: GO DIRECTLY, DO NOT PASS GO, AND DO NOT COLLECT $200
One shoe was dropped Monday by NASCAR in Daytona Beach with the announcement that CHAD KNAUS, NASCAR Nextel Cup crew chief for RICK HENDRICK driver, JIMMIE JOHNSON/#48 Lowes Chevrolet, has been "ejected from any further participation in 2006 Daytona 500 activities as a result of a rules infraction discovered following pole qualifying runs Sunday."
Basically, Knaus has been sent straight home. He can't pass Go and can't collect $200. He could receive a large fine, and he can't go any place requiring the use of his NASCAR license or 'Hard Card', because they have been pulled by NASCAR - which is its prerogative and totally under its control.
DARIAN GRUBB, Hendrick lead engineer for both Johnson's team and JEFF GORDON/#24 DuPont Chevrolet, has taken over for Knaus at the track.
Knaus can work at the Rick Hendrick race shop. He said: "It's obviously disappointing to miss the biggest race of the year, but I'm confident in Darian and the rest of my team-mates. There's been a lot of effort put into the Daytona 500 and I know the team will be successful with the support they'll receive from the entire organisation."
Hendrick said: "We understand NASCAR's position. Our expectations for the team remain high. It's a deep, championship-calibre group and they'll step up this weekend."
NASCAR is mad and not going to take it any more. There WILL be further NASCAR penalties, after the Daytona 500. Those further penalties will apply to Johnson's car, and could apply to the #96 DLP Chevrolet driven by TERRY LABONTE for the new team of TROY AIKMAN and ROGER STAUBACH. That car was penalised for an unapproved carburettor, found in post-qualifying inspection.
Among the penalty possibilities is NASCAR taking the cars. And there's always the NASCAR fine system, which has been escalating with each incident. Knaus was fined in 2002, 2003 and 2005, with his last fine being $35,000. Fines and suspensions are appeal-able. Ejection is not.
Both Johnson and Terry Labonte will start at the rear of the first Gatorade Duels Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. The Duals are Twin 150-mile qualifying races which set the rest of the field for Sunday's Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 front row was set Sunday with two Jeffs - JEFF BURTON/#31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet on pole, and last year's Daytona 500 winner, Jeff Gordon, next to him.