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Hendrick loses appeal against Johnson penalties

Hendrick Motorsports has lost its appeal against the penalties levied on Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus for illegal bodywork modifications - but intends to fight on.
A NASCAR appeals panel has unanimously upheld the ruling that the #48 car of Jimmie Johnson contained illegal bodywork modifications when presented for scrutineering at Daytona in February, and confirmed the penalties applied by NASCAR.

The National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel spent several hours hearing witnesses and reviewing evidence before upholding the findings and the penalties that had been imposed on the team, Jimmie Johnson, his crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec.

Johnson lost 25 Sprint Cup championship points and the team lost the same number of car owner points. Knaus and Malec have to serve a six race suspension until April 18, and are under NASCAR probation through to May 9. Knaus has additionally been given a $100,000 fine.

"Upon hearing the testimony, carefully reviewing the facts and historically comparative penalties, the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR," read the official announcement of Tuesday's appeal.

Rick Hendrick, the owner of Hendrick Motorsports, was very unhappy with the outcome, saying: "I don't agree with it. Period." The team confirmed that it was going to exercise its right of final appeal to the National Stock Car Racing chief appellate officer.

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

NASCAR made no comment beyond the official statement, and Hendrick did not want to get drawn on the case that his team had mounted at today's hearing. "It's best that I just wait until we go through all the processes," he said. "There is nothing for me to talk about that you don't already know."

No timeframe was given for holding the final appeal, but it's likely to be within the next ten days and certainly not before this weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway. In the meantime, the team confirmed that Knaus and Malec would not begin their suspensions until the final appeal was heard and that personnel adjustments were not planned in the meantime and that no plans had been decided for who would take over the roles of crew chief and car chief it it came down to that.

While the points deduction is clearly not a good way to start the season, it's probably the lesser headache for the team. Points can be clawed back, and the #48 has since followed up a disastrous Daytona with two strong races that have already begin the process or repairing the damage. Much more serious would be losing Knaus from the pit box for another six races.




Related Pictures

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#48 crew chief Chad Knaus helps unload his team`s backup car after Jimmie Johnson hit the wall on his first lap of final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nev. [Picture Credit: Jeff Bottari/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]
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)
Crew chief Chad Knaus reacts as 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)
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Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Austin Dillon driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Saturday July 4, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Dillon was awarded second position based on his practice lap from Friday. Sprint Cup qualifying was canceled Saturday due to weather. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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