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Hendrick Motorsports Wins Appeal

[1]National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook heard and considered the appeal of the penalties handed down by NASCAR to the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Sprint Cup Series team that stemmed from an opening day inspection [2] for the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Middlebrook rescinded the points penalties and the suspensions. The $100,000 fine for crew chief Chad Knaus remains in place. Knaus and car chief Ron Malec remain on NASCAR probation until May 9th.

During opening day inspection for the 500, NASCAR officials said that they found modifications on the rear quarter panel, specifically, they had an issue with the C-pillars. 

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said that the changes to the car were a major violation to NASCAR’s policy banning alterations to the series template. He said suspensions were possible.

About a week and a half later, penalties for the No. 48 team were announced [3]. Knaus and Malec were suspended for six Sprint Cup Series events; Johnson was penalized with the loss of 25 driver’s points; car owner Jeff Gordon was penalized with the loss of 25 owner’s points; Knaus was fined $100,000; and both Knaus and Malec were put on NASCAR probation until May 9th.

HMS appealed the penalty to the NASCAR Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel. The panel upheld the penalty [4], meaning HMS could appeal to Middlebrook — their last chance to get the penalty overturned.

According to SceneDaily.com [5], HMS based the appeal on the fact that the C-pillars had previously passed inspection, and that the car never has a template put on it before NASCAR took action.

Middlebrook did not explain why he rescinded the penalties. Nor did he explain why he kept the fine in place, but NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp indicated that the fine is “evidence that there was a rules infraction.”

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