Blog Entry

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

Posted on: February 29, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 7:05 pm
By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Illegal C-Posts at Daytona were the latest infractions on the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet - Getty)

Chad Knaus
is no stranger to being penalized by NASCAR. 

In fact this latest infraction and punishment would be the third time the Hendrick Motorsports crew chief got in hot water just at Daytona alone. 

Knaus was fined $25,000 and Jimmie Johnson hit with a 25 point penalty in July of 2002 when the 48 Chevy was found to have illegal rear trailing arms which dropped the back of the car lower to the ground. 

In 2006, Knaus was ejected from the track, fined $25,000 and handed a four-race suspension for installing an adjustable rear window to help the aerodynamics. 

Of course there are other examples of the Knaus ingenuity during his NASCAR career including a 2007 incident at Infineon Raceway for a body violation that resulted in a six-race suspension. 

He’s been relatively infraction free of late, at least in the suspension department, but last fall generated a lot of attention at Talladega when he was overheard instructing Johnson to “crack the back” of his car into the wall if he won the race because the rear end was too low to pass post inspection. 

So with that body of work already on his record, it’s no wonder NASCAR came down as hard as it did this time around with a six-race suspension, $100,000 fine and 25-point penalties in the driver and owner departments.

Such a repeat offender was bound to get the book thrown at him at some point.

“It certainly makes you scratch your head,” said NASCAR president Mike Helton when the Daytona inspection infractions were announced two weeks ago. “What we’ve learned over time is to, in the heat of the battle, try to accomplish what we immediately are after, which is to get all the cars inspected and get them on the race track and then sit back and kind of digest it all.

“But you do kind of scratch your head on a name that reoccurs.”

There’s a school of thought that believes Knaus is simply doing his job, trying to find that gray area where the NASCAR rulebook ends and ingenuity takes over.

NASCAR’s history is full of cheating incidents including the very first race the sanctioning body ever ran in 1949 when apparent winner Herbert Westmoreland's 1947 Ford was found to have illegal rear springs in post inspection and the victory was handed to second place Jim Roper.

But in order for the sport to have credibility there has to be a rulebook and NASCAR has to enforce said rules.

Since the advent of the “Car of Tomorrow” in 2007, NASCAR has made it clear the sanctioning body would not tolerate tampering of any kind with the Sprint Cup machine. The biggest and smallest names in the sport have all felt the wrath of NASCAR when the rules were compromised.

NASCAR has had no problem increasing those penalties over the years to get its zero tolerance point across.

"Now if this penalty won't stop it, we have no problems ramping up," Sprint Cup director John Darby said back when Knaus and fellow Hendrick crew chief were penalized in Sonoma. "We can keep going, and we will, until we get the results we're looking for."

Which is why this potential six-race time out for Knaus makes sense. A multiple time offender as he is, Knaus deserves more scrutiny.

Clearly the fines, penalties and suspensions that have come before haven’t impacted Knaus’ penchant for thinking too far outside of the box.

My guess is even this time around it won’t change that outlook.

But NASCAR is doing the right thing with this unprecedented disciplinary action.

And somewhere down the road when Knaus decides to hang up his crew chief uniform, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a job offer come his way in Daytona Beach.

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Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:52 am

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

Pete, First I have no problems with Chad's penalty,  However, if NASCAR was to increase the penalties for repeat violators, then Chad's penalty should have been 32 points (125 / 190 = 66% of the max points)  (66% * 48 = 31.68 or 32 points)  Also since Chad's last suspension was 6 races, this time it should have been 9.

That is "IF" NASCAR really wanted to be consistent in it's rulings of the past.

As for being Caught?  Chad should have known after the uproar of Dega and the "Cracking of the rear of the car" the inspectors and competitors were going to be looking at the 48 real close.  This was a dumb move. 

But it was nice to see NASCAR didn't sweep this under the rug after Daytona considering the poor start JJ got anyway. 

You did mention the suspension in 2006 but what was forgotten was there was no points taken.  JJ is starting the year 2 races in the whole from the number 1 slot.  And is almost a race behind 43rd place at this time.  Can he recover, sure but a couple of bad finishes could put him in a go or go home situtation and force him to use his PC to get into the race. 

Now we have to wait and see about the appeal.  Let's hope justice remains and Rick can't buy his way out of the penalties handed down. 

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:08 pm

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

Chad Knaus and Jimmy Johnson are the slickest and most prolific cheaters in NASCAR.  They didn't win five straight championships in a sport this competitive by playing fair.  Teams figure out minor adjustments that make major differences on race day, but most of them are spread around faster than a prom date on a cheerleader's facebook page.  

JJ is good, but nobody is that much better than everyone else right now: certainly not enough to win five straight championships without some help.  The cars have been desgined to be as equal as possible, but JJ always seems to have a little more car than everyone else.  When it happens for a few races or even for one season, it means someone is ahead of the curve.  When it happens for five years, it means someone is probably cheating.  

Considering that JJ and CK have faced penalties before, the odds are definitely in favor of the cheating scenario.  JJ's fans will disagree, but I think the punishment was just.  If anything, it could have been even more harsh.

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:11 pm

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

Pete Pistone uses every chance to hate on Johnson and his team. Probably some sort of jealousy since Johnson is a legend and he's stuck writing articles about him. Every time he mentions Johnson, it is in a negative light, such as insinuating he crashed himself out at Daytona, and also saying Johnson clipped Danica to take her out when Johnson's car only made contact with Danica's after she was already wrecked by Ragan. I've seen examples of media bias, but usually they are more discreet than this.

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:20 am

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

As just an occasional viewer of NASCAR, please help me understand. Why are any of these rules in existence anyways!!!? I mean unless there is a safety concern most occasional NASCAR fans like me would rather see cars that are slightly different. It makes it more interesting, to maybe see what a crew might come up with next to give them the edge.

Since: Mar 1, 2012
Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:16 am

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

Maybe you should help Mayfield you don't know anything about Racing.

Since: Mar 1, 2012
Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:13 am

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

Pete you are a disgrace to sports writers you should should not condone lies put out by Nascar did you see proof of rule violation if not you speak from falsehoods you should have proof to back up your story you do a great disservice to reporters everywhere!!!!!!!!!!

Since: Nov 18, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:05 am

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

I've seen enough of Chad Knaus' smarmy face to last a lifetime.  One reason I don't get too excited about JJ's accomplishments is because he's hooked up with this cheater.  While on suspension maybe he could help Jeremy Mayfield...

Since: Mar 1, 2012
Posted on: March 1, 2012 6:29 am

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

I've been following Auto Racing for over fifty years and have never seen such a mess in my life.  People seam to hate winners in Nascar. Maby when Jimmy and Chad quit winning the people will start to realize what a greate combo they are. I remember Dale Earnhardt Sr. And Jeff gorden were looked at in the same way but when they stoped winning people loved them. What's up with that?

Since: Nov 25, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:05 am

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

NASCAR, give us access to your dry erase rulebook. If the C-posts fit within the template, the car should pass. If you don't like the innovation and creativity from some race teams, fix your damn templates. If not, tell Chad "good job" and close the loophole, but don't punish him for outsmarting y' ain't that hard to. 
Why doesn't NASCAR give the specific details of the violation(s)? What are the tolerances regarding the C-post sheet metal shapes? Where's the template that would clearly show the violation? The only gray area is NASCAR's interpretation of a 3 item rule book:

1. Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing). A subjective opinion.

2. 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). Even if it fits the templates, we can screw you on another subjective opinion. 

3. 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). Once again, NASCAR should erase "judgement" and replace it with "subjective opinion". 

How difficult can this be?   

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:56 pm

NASCAR right to come down hard on Chad Knaus

I think they overpenalized Knaus, seeing as how this was a pre-qualifying infraction and never saw the track. Definitely should not be the largest penalty of all time considering Waltrip tried to run cars with rocket fuel a few seasons ago, among other weird infractions. However, I do think Hendrick Motorsports should fire Knaus because he is ruining whatever respect Hendrick and Jimmie Johnson have left in the garage and amongst fans.

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