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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)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, suffers a mechanical issue during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, prepares to drive during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualifies in second position Friday, February 27, 2015 for a front row position start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Team XTREME Racing #44 entry - driven in the Daytona 500 by Reed Sorenson (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, interim driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS finishes in sixteenth place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finishes in fifth place, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finishes in 33rd place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Gordon, who led for 87 laps,  was involved in a multi-car incident on the last lap. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS races to a third place finish with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS who finishes in fifth place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS pulls into his pit on his way to a second place finish in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Percision Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, race three-wide during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the yellow and chequered flags to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, poses with the The Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, applies the winner`s decal in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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