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Johnson, Knaus talk penalties and appeals

Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus were beseiged by reporters at Phoenix wanting to know what they thought of the heavy penalties handed down to the #48 team midweek.
Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief Chas Knaus were trying hard to brush aside questions about the mid-week penalties from NASCAR handed down on them and the #48 team for a rules infringement at Daytona.

"Obviously, there is a lot that has gone on since last weekend's race including the penalties that have been passed down," Johnson said at Phoenix on Friday. "But, I'm focused on this weekend's race. We need to go out there and get as many points as we can. Win the race, that is what [sponsor] Lowe's has hired us to do and what Hendrick Motorsports has worked for all winter long to get us prepared for this year."

Points are what matter now, after Johnson and his team got a 25pt driver and car owner's deduction for illegal modifications to part of the #48's bodywork at Daytona. With a disastrous Daytona 500 itself (he was wrecked on lap 2 by Elliott Sadler) that means that Johnson comes into this weekend's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway with -23pts in the Sprint Cup championship.

"We were certainly disappointed in the way the race unfolded for us," he said about Monday night's events. "To make it 2.6-miles in the Daytona 500 and to be torn up just isn't the way we wanted to start the season."

Johnson made clear that he still had complete faith in his team and his long-time crew chief Chad Knaus, despite the embarrassment of failing scrutineering and now having the heavy penalties to work off.

"I have all the confidence in the world and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports on the #48 team and across the board," he insisted. "I believe in our system, I believe in my team, I believe in my guys, it is what it is. We are here to race and win the race this weekend."

The reaction to the penalties up and down pit road has been mixed. Johnson's Hendrrick team mate Jeff Gordon was of the opinion that "It seems to me to be sending a stronger message than needed to be sent ... I was surprised at how stiff a penalty that was."

But Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin wasn't surprised at all. "I think NASCAR does not like the wool to be pulled over their eyes," he said, referring to the theory that NASCAR felt that it had been fooled by the #48 at the last restrictor-plate race of 2011 at Talladega and was in no mood to be a patsy this time around. "You always want to try to stay in NASCAR's good graces and I think that NASCAR has just had heavy eyes for those guys early in the season anyway," Hamlin added.

"There's a fine balance between where you cross the line and where you don't," said Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick. "The only way to find out is to push things to the limit and see if you get away with it ... Sometimes they cross the line and you've got to find that line.."




Related Pictures

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Crew members work on the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson after NASCAR confiscated C-posts due to a modification violation in an initial inspection at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Danica Patrick (#10) and David Ragan (#34) collide with the #48 of Jimmie Johnson on Lap 2 of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. [Picture Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Jimmie Johnson in the garage area. [Photo credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Ron Malec, car chief for the #48 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car, wipes the hood of the vehicle during a break between Friday`s two practices at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Picture Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Crew chief Chad Knaus of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson, speaks to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 2 in Avondale, Ariz. NASCAR suspended Knaus for six races and fined him $100,000 for failing an inspection last week in Daytona. Knaus will continue his crew chief duties while Hendrick Motorsports appeal. [Picture Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, sits in his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, talks with the media following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS qualified for second position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Johnson, who is in the Chase, is 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, celebrates with Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, talks to his crew chief, Chad Knaus, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ben Kennedy in the #31 Turner Scott Motorsport NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, looks on from the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 9, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Crew members for Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, work on the car after a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, prepares to drive during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 3, 2014 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 28, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Johnson advances to the Contender 12 phase of the Chase which begins next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished in fifth place and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Both Johnson and Harvick are in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS finished in fourth place and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished in fifth place Sunday, September 21, 2014 in the Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues in next week`s Challenger 16 race. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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