Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Johnson's Car Fails Inspection NASCAR Removes Parts of No. 48

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Johnson's Car Fails Inspection NASCAR Removes Parts of No. 48

Article excerpt

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --

Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are back in the spotlight at one of racing's biggest stages -- and not for the right reason.

NASCAR confiscated part of their Daytona 500 car Friday because of illegal modifications, a rocky start to Speedweeks for a team trying to bounce back from its worst season.

Sprint Cup Series officials determined the No. 48 Chevrolet had illegally modified C-posts, an area of sheet metal between the roof and the side windows. It could lead to penalties for Knaus and the team.

Officials cut off the C-posts and planned to ship them to NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, N.C., for further testing. In the meantime, the parts in question were put on display for other teams to examine, a routine procedure for the sanctioning body.

NASCAR allowed the Hendrick Motorsports team to fix that area of the car before practice begins for the Feb. 26 Daytona 500. Qualifying is scheduled for Sunday.

"Well, it's a [heck] of a way to start the 2012 season," said Ken Howes, vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports. "But the car obviously failed inspection and NASCAR has directed us how they want it fixed and we're busy doing that. We're waiting on some parts to arrive and we'll put it back together and run it through inspection again."

The No. 48 team could be fined, docked points or both after the series' premier event.

"There's always a potential, but we'll just wait until after Speedweeks is over with," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition.

Knaus has been caught in other cheating incidents.

Most notably, he was ejected before the 2006 Daytona 500 after NASCAR found illegal modifications after a qualifying session. Last season, Knaus was caught on camera telling Johnson that if he won at Talladega he needed to "crack the back of the car," apparently to build an explanation in case the car did not pass post-race inspection. Nothing came of that situation.

Knaus has been fined and penalized several other times, too.

This situation doesn't appear to be as serious as it was in 2006.

"Ejection? …

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