Chad Knaus, crew chief of Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, remains on the job this weekend in Phoenix while his team appeals his six-race suspension by NASCAR for what it judged to be illegal modifications to the C-pillar area of Johnson's car. Johnson also was penalized driver points, while Knaus and car chief Ron Malec were given equal-length suspensions and Knaus was fined $100,000.
Meeting with the media to discuss the issue on Friday, Knaus admitted "disappointment" about the incident but said he remains hopeful that he and the 48 team will be exonerated by their appeal. He confirmed team owner Rick Hendrick's assertion that the same configuration had been raced in restrictor plate races last year without incident.
“It did run all four races last year, and has been through inspection a lot,” said Knaus, who added that he believes the scrutineering process that had flagged the car at Daytona was flawed. “It was all visual. The templates were never actually put on the car. It was a visual inspection at that point. We never even got the opportunity to actually present that under templates. It is unfortunate that there is a bit of subjectiveness to it, and that is why we are going through the appeal.
“This is an unfortunate part of the job. As a leader of a team like this, you have to be ready for it. As successful as we've been over the course of the years, our car obviously goes through a little more scrutiny because it is technical. It is inspected more. It goes to the [NASCAR] R & D Center more because we win more races, more top-fives and things like that. So, you get somewhat numb to it. It is definitely not the way we wanted to start off the season, for sure.”
Knaus said he wasn't sure of the team's appeal prospects, but was satisfied just to have the chance to present the team's case more fully.
“We are very fortunate to have this ability to go through the appeal process. That is something NASCAR put in place a long time ago. I'm glad that they do. It's unfortunate that teams have to take advantage of the appeal process from time to time, but it is good that it is there. We have seen some thing's changed, reversed, minimized and some maximized at different times. Hopefully we will get it going in our favor.”
Asked whether he thought the issue pointed up an area in need of clarification as to what was legal to work on and what was not, Knaus replied, “All that stuff is going to come out in the appeal, and you guys will hear about it then.”