[media-credit name=”Ed Coombs” align=”alignright” width=”216″][/media-credit]On March 13, 2012, the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel heard the appeal on the penalties assessed to the No. 48 team at Daytona International Speedway. The panel, which consisted of John Capels, Leo Mehl and Dale Pinilis, decided to uphold the penalties.
“The unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR,” the statement from NASCAR says.
The penalties upheld were a six week suspension for both crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec from the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, plus probation till May 9th. They also upheld the fine of $100,000 to Knaus, along with the 25 driver points and owner points taken away.
According to NASCAR, they did not agree with the shape of the c-posts and requested that they be changed. The C-post is a piece of paneling towards the back of the car that connects the roof to the rear quarterpanel. The team modified the piece to gain an aerodynamic advantage.
As per original their press release, the posts were “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).”
Upon section 15 of the rule book, Hendrick Motorsports has the right to continue the appeal process, appealing the decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer. Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick has already announced that his team will exercise this right.
“The panel was generous with its time today, and we appreciated the opportunity to talk through our concerns,” Hendrick says as per a team press release. “We feel strongly about this issue and will continue to pursue it at the next level.”
Hendrick Motorsports feels that they have a good appeal as NASCAR determined the car was illegal before being put under templates.
“The templates were never actually put on the car,” Knaus said during his media appearance at Phoenix International Raceway. “It was a visual inspection at that point. We never even got the opportunity to actually present that under templates. It is unfortunate, there is a bit of subjectiveness to it and that is why we are going through the appeal.”
Knaus says that will be brought up during the appeal as they “will just have to talk about it at that point. NASCAR does a good job; they have a good set-up structure and a good set of standards that are in black and white, some areas that are not.”
It has also been noted that the same piece had been ran on the car for all four restrictor plate races last year by Rick Hendrick. Knaus said the same thing when asked about that.
The work that the No. 48 team did was “accordingly” within the templates, but not to NASCAR’s specifications. NASCAR has also made it clear to teams that they do not like them modifying parts “between the templates” and have told Knaus that before, suspending him six weeks in 2007 for modifying the front fenders.
On that topic, Ken Howes, VP of Competition for Hendrick Motorsports, told SBNation.com that the template doesn’t quite cover every square inch of the car and there is nothing written in the rule book to stop them. The rule book just states that the car must fit the templates that NASCAR specifies.
While the appeal process continues, Hendrick Motorsports notes that there will be no personnel changes made as both Knaus and Malec will remain on the pit box this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.