Knaus Talks About Penalties
Earlier this week, NASCAR issued a series of penalties against the No. 48 Sprint Cup team of Hendrick Motorsports after its car failed inspection at Daytona International Speedway a week ago. The car, it was determined, had an illegal “C” post – the post between the roof an body at the far rear end of the car.
The penalties included the loss of 25 driver championship points for Jimmie Johnson.
In addition, NASCAR suspended crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec for six races.
The team appealed the penalties and Knaus and Malec are at Phoenix International Raceway for this weekend’s event.
On Friday morning, Knaus met with the media for a question and answer session. The following is a transcript of that session:
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THE PENALTY? “Obviously, I’m deeply saddened of course. We didn’t expect this. It’s not the way that we wanted to start off the season. It is good to have the support of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports (HMS). We will go after this thing, hopefully get it resolved and beaten and go back to business. Right now we are focused on getting through Phoenix and trying to win this championship this year.”
WHEN YOU SAID YOU DIDN’T EXPECT IT, DID YOU MEAN YOU DIDN’T EXPECT THE SUSPENSION OR YOU JUST DIDN’T EXPECT TO BE IN THIS POSITION A FEW WEEKS AGO? “Really didn’t expect any of it, to be quite honest with you. We do everything we can to build the best race cars we possibly can to bring to the race track. That is what we do. Unfortunately, they didn’t like something and we have to address that. It definitely was not foreseen.”
DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A GOOD CHANCE AT OVERTURNING THIS APPEAL? “You know I don’t know. We are very fortunate to have this ability to go through the appeal process. That is something NASCAR put in place a long time ago. I’m glad that they do. It’s unfortunate that teams have to take advantage of the appeal process from time to time, but it is good that it is there. We have seen something’s changed, reversed, minimized and some maximized at different times. Hopefully we will get it going in our favor.”
JACK ROUSH SAID THAT THIS WAS IN THE GOLDEN AREA THAT YOU DO NOT TOUCH AND THAT HE WOULD NOT HAVE TOUCHED THAT AREA. WAS IT IN THE GOLDEN PROTECTED AREA? “We are just going to have to wait and see how this all comes to fruition from the appeal.”
HOW DID NASCAR DETERMINE IT WAS ILLEGAL? “It was all visual. The templates were never actually put on the car. 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.”
WITH A PENALTY THIS HEFTY, DON’T YOU THINK A TEAM AND OR AN INDIVIDUAL SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT FOR THE THING TO BE MEASURED? “That will definitely come up during the appeal. We 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.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE UNDER MORE SCRUTINY BECAUSE OF PAST ISSUES? “I don’t know. That is difficult for me to say. You would have to go ask NASCAR about that.”
WHAT IS YOUR BACK-UP PLAN SHOULD THE APPEAL NOT WORK? WHO WILL FILL IN FOR YOU? “We don’t know yet. We are very fortunate at HMS we have a lot of depth in our organization. We have great people. We have a lot of very intelligent people; some people who probably do this job a hell of a lot better than me there. I’m not really too concerned about that right now.”
HOW MUCH OF A HOLE ARE YOU IN POINTS WISE AT THIS POINT? “I think it is going to make it exciting. That is one thing that we typically try to do here with the No. 48 team. We somehow or another we seem to get through adversity pretty well. I’m not saying we like a challenge like this, but I’m pretty sure we will rise to the occasion.”
HOW OFTEN DOES NASCAR DISALLOW A TEAM TO GO BACK THROUGH (THE INSPECTION PROCESS) AND HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE OR NOT? “You mean to work on something that maybe doesn’t fit or doesn’t look right?”
YES, IT SEEMS TO ME HAVING BEEN AROUND AWHILE THAT TYPICALLY YOU CAN GO BACK AND WORK ON THAT PIECE AND COME BACK THROUGH AND HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE IF IT IS PRE-WEEKEND INSPECTION. “I think you answered your own question there.”
DO YOU THINK THIS TARNISHES YOUR REPUTATION? DOES THAT MATTER? “Honestly, I’m here to do the best I can No. 48 team, and that is all that really matters to me. As far as my reputation goes, I’m not too concerned about that. What we want to do is go out there and do the best thing we can for Hendrick Motorsports, the best thing for Lowe’s and try to win races and championships.”
ARE YOU SAYING THAT THE RULE IS NOT CLEAR? THAT YOU WERE WORKING IN AN AREA THAT THOUGHT WAS AN AREA THAT IS OK? “All that stuff is going to come out in the appeal, and you guys will hear about it then.”
WHO’S AT FAULT? “I can’t answer that either?”
HOW MUCH OF YOUR TIME WILL BE SPENT ON THE APPEAL? “We’re fortunate. Once again, we have a lot of great people at Hendrick Motorsports. Mr. Hendrick has taken a special interest in this obviously. He’ll be pretty heavily ingrained in it. There will be some resources from the No. 48 team, and from a lot of the people at Hendrick Motorsports. We do a really good job of documenting what it is that we do to these race cars. How they have been changed. What’s been done; and so-on and so-forth. Whether it be from a rules-change standpoint; obviously the teams have to react to those quite often. We all know the rules change quite a bit. We document everything just so we don’t get ourselves in this position. We feel like we’ve got a pretty good jump on what it is we need to adjust.”
DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE TAKING A RISK WITH WHAT YOU WERE DOING? “Not at all. Not at all.”
DOES THIS ONE AFFECT YOU MORE THAN OTHERS IN THE PAST? “In the past?” (LAUGHS)
THERE HAVE BEEN A FEW PENALTIES, BUT IS THIS ONE MORE THAN YOU SAW COMING? “Honestly, it’s not what I had expected. I’m disappointed that it is in the situation it is. This is not what we had expected rolling into Daytona at all.”
THIS CAR HAD BEEN THROUGH INSPECTION BEFORE WITH THE SAME PIECE: “Multiple times.”
DO GET FRUSTRATED THAT YOU HAVE TO TROT OUT IN FRONT OF EVERYONE AGAIN? DO YOU GET BUMMED OUT? “Honestly, I love my job; every aspect of it. This is an unfortunate part of the job. As a leader of a team like this, you have to be ready for it. As successful as we’ve been over the course of the years, our car obviously goes through a little more scrutiny because it is technical. It is inspected more. It goes to the R & D center more because we win more races, more top-fives and things like that. So, you get somewhat numb to it. It is definitely not the way we wanted to start off the season, for sure.”
MR. HENDRICK SAID THIS CONFIGURATION RAN ALL FOUR (RESTRICTOR) PLATE RACES LAST YEAR. WHAT IMPACT DO YOU THINK THAT WILL HAVE IN THE APPEALS PROCESS? “We’ll have to see. It did run all four races last year, and has been through inspection a lot.”
WHAT ABOUT THIS WEEKEND AND HOW THIS TEAM IS FEELING? “I cannot wait to get that KOBALT Chevrolet in Victory Lane this weekend.”No Comment