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Knaus, Malec Suspended; Johnson Loses 25 Points

[1]The 2012 Sprint Cup Series season got off to a rough start for Jimmie Johnson. On Feb. 17th, Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy failed initial inspection [2]. NASCAR said it found modifications on the C-pillars of Johnson’s car. They were confiscated.

The following night in the Bud Shootout, Johnson was involved in a crash that collected  Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger, and resulted in Jeff Gordon flipping down the backstretch. Kyle Busch and a few other cars were involved, but they were able to continue. Johnson finished 14th.

Johnson’s weekend got a little boost when he finished third in his Gatorade Duel, earning him the eight starting position in the Daytona 500.

But, on lap 2 of the 500, Johnson was pushing Regan Smith with help from Elliott Sadler. As Sadler pushed Johnson, Johnson went high, it looked like, to pass Smith. Just as he got outside, Sadler made contact with Johnson in his left rear, an action that had catastrophic results throughout the weekend. The contact turned Johnson, turned down, then back up to correct it. He hit the outside wall head-on, then he spun across the track coming to rest in the middle.

Danica Patrick made contact with David Ragan while trying to avoid Johnson’s car, which sent both of them sliding into it. Ragan made hard contact with Johnson. Ragan’s No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford and Johnson’s Chevy were both done. Patrick repaired the damage and returned to the race nearly 70 laps down. Johnson wound up finishing 42nd.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the five-time Sprint Cup champion, NASCAR announced penalties, suspensions and fines for the No. 48 team.

The No. 48 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-2.1E (if in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted — unapproved car body modifications).

Crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron malec were suspended for the next six Sprint Cup Series championship events.  They both have been placed on NASCAR probation until May 9th. Knaus was also fined $100,000.

Driver Jimmie Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon have been penalized with the loss of 25 driver and owner points, respectively.

As a result, Johnson should be 23 points in the hole because he only earned 2 points by finishing 42nd.


Jeff Gordon’s wreck, which collects Johnson, others: 

Johnson’s Wreck in the Daytona 500: