NASCAR plans to meet with Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus over an exchange between the two that occurred before the race at Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, according to SB Nation . Knaus could be heard telling Johnson to intentionally damage the back end of the car if they win the race so that they could use the damage as an excuse if the car didn’t fit NASCAR’s strict thresholds after the race.
NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp issued a statement  saying:
We became aware of this piece of audio this morning and certainly want to get all the facts before making an opinion and reaching any conclusions. We’ll visit with the parties and pull all the facts together best we can. While Talladega is done and the No. 48 was not the winning or random car, we certainly have an interest in getting the facts straight on behalf of the balance of the competitors.
Johnson and No. 48 Lowe’s team’s dynasty of five straight championships is about to come to an abrupt halt after a disappointing 26th place finish at Talladega. The finish leaves them sitting seventh in position in the championship standings, 50 points behind Carl Edwards with just four race remaining in the 2011 season.
Before the green flagged waved, Knaus leaned in the cockpit and told the five time champion that if they won, he should intentionally damage the back of the racecar during post race celebration. Kanus admitted to giving Johnson instructions to “cover their bases” in case bump drafting knocked the car out of NASCAR’S rules. Officials more than likely would have accepted the damaged as the reason for the car failing to meet NASCAR’s tolerances.
Johnson’s in-car camera was live on NASCAR.com’s Race Buddy, which meant the audio was broadcast to anyone listening on NASCAR’S website.
Knaus was heard saying “If we win this race, you have to crack the back of the car. Got it?” Johnson sounded surprised, asking, “Really?” Knaus replied saying “Yes. Got it? You don’t have to have to hit it hard, you don’t have to destroy it. But you’ve gotta do a donut and you’ve gotta hit the back end, or somebody’s gotta hit you in the ass-end or something. OK?” Johnson either remained silent, or the audio didn’t pick up his response. “You’ll be alright. Can’t take any chances,” Knaus added.
After admitting to the allegations, Knaus said, “Here’s the deal, racing at Talladega is tough, and I think everybody understands that. You run 500 miles at 200 miles per hour, and you’re bump-drafting and you’re beating on one another, and it’s real easy for these cars to get outside of tolerance. It’s a tight tolerance that we’re held in. It doesn’t take much to be a few thousands [of an inch] off and have NASCAR raise an eyebrow.”
NASCAR will more than likely meet with crew chief Chad Knaus and driver Jimmie Johnson this weekend before any on track activities at Martinsville Speedway. Because the No. 48 team didn’t win the race and damage the rear-end of their racecar, I believe we won’t see a penalty handed down. NASCAR will more than likely tell they warn the team and tell them that they will watch them for the rest of the season.