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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 Pro Services Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet SS, qualifies for tenth position Friday, August 21, 2015 for Saturday night`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Johnson is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for seventh position Friday, August 21, 2015 for Saturday night`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place with Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS who finished in 20th place Sunday, August 16, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at New Hampshire on July 7, 2014. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at Chicago on July 18, 2014. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway on 30 May 2015. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Josh Hedges/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position Friday, August 14, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Johnson is fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for seventh position Friday, August 14, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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