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NASCAR Says Hendrick Cars Were Legal

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, October 2 2009
Mark Martin is just one of the veteran drivers who have put Hendrick Motorsports solidly in the Chase.

Mark Martin had his Hendrick Motorsports car inspected and cleared earlier this week by NASCAR.

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Kansas City, Kan. – NASCAR officials said Friday that they had indeed warned Hendrick Motorsports officials that the cars of Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin were close to exceeding legal tolerances, but that the cars were not illegal.

“It was just an informal warning,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said at Kansas Speedway.

The cars of Martin and Johnson, who are first and second in points, were taken to the NASCAR research and development center in North Carolina after the race at Dover International Speedway last Sunday.

There, they were subjected to tests which, Tharp said, are too extensive to be performed at the race tracks after races.

He said the tests, which he termed routine, revealed that the cars of Martin and Johnson were right up against legal tolerances but did not cross the line.

Tharp said Hendrick officials were told that but, he said, there was no order by NASCAR to not bring the cars back to as had been reported by several media sources.

Chad Knaus, crew chief of Johnson’s car, said that the only reason people were talking about the situation was because of who it involved – two very high profile teams.

“There’s a tolerance for everything and as long as you’re within the tolerance that’s fine but when you start getting close to that line you’ve got to make sure that we understand why and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Knaus said. “There’s been other teams in the garage that have been over there and they said hey you guys are pushing it and you’re going to need to get to work.

“This is just fortunately the first time that we’ve had that. So it’s good timing for everyone. It’s realigning where we need to be. The last thing that we want with what we’re trying to do with this here is to have a situation in the post race inspection, that’s the furthest thing from our minds. We’re going into this deal trying to win our fourth straight championship and that’s our focus.”

Johnson said, “We weren’t cheating and our car was not found illegal. It’s not illegal or it would not have been released” back to the team.

Elsewhere in the garages, the situation was drawing indifference. Envy, in one instance.

Red Bull Racing’s Brian Vickers, who is a former Hendrick driver, said, “Good for (Johnson and Martin)” when told of the situation.

“That is why they are running good,” Vickers said. “NASCAR gives us a box to work around and if you are not (pushing the tolerances), then shame on you. I wish it was us.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, October 2 2009
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