Knaus in trouble again

Knaus faces another suspension

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Crew chief Chad Knaus was suspended for six races and fined $100,000, while driver Jimmie Johnson was docked 25 points for an unapproved modification to their No. 48 Chevrolet before the Daytona 500.

Team owner Rick Hendrick will appeal a decision by NASCAR that has driver Jimmie Johnson (left) being docked 25 points and crew chief Chad Knaus facing a six-race suspension.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Team owner Rick Hendrick will appeal a decision by NASCAR that has driver Jimmie Johnson (left) being docked 25 points and crew chief Chad Knaus facing a six-race suspension.

Johnson’s car failed pre-
qualifying inspection when NASCAR determined the C-posts – the area between the roof, rear doors and truck deck – had been pushed out to deflect air from the rear spoiler.

Knaus, who has led Johnson to five Sprint Cup Series championships, has been suspended four other times. One of those, however, was overturned on appeal.

Hendrick Motorsports plans to appeal this penalty, too.

“Our organization respects NASCAR and the way the sanctioning body governs our sport,” team owner Rick Hendrick said. “In this case, though, the system broke down, and we will voice our concerns through the appeals process.”

Car chief Ron Malec also was suspended for six races and fined $100,000. Knaus and Malec will be allowed to work during the appeals process.

Hendrick said he will argue that same car was used in races last year at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Super­speedway. He said it’s only been painted since it was built for the 2011 Daytona 500.

Johnson crashed and finished 42nd Monday in the Daytona 500. If the penalty stands, he will head to Phoenix with minus-23 points.

RATINGS: The Daytona 500 had a lot of things working against it – a 36-hour rain delay, a two-hour red-flag period for a fire that started with Juan Pablo Montoya’s collision with a safety truck and a checkered flag that didn’t come until 12:55 p.m. Tuesday.

But that didn’t keep the fans away.

Not only did 150,000 fans return Monday night at Daytona International Speedway, a national television audience didn’t touch that dial. According to Nielsen Media Research, this year’s race was the second highest-
rated 500 in history and one of the most-watched stock car races of all time.

More than 36.5 million fans watched the race, making it the most-watched sporting event in prime time to be watched on Fox since Game 5 of the 2010 World Series.

The top six markets were: Jacksonville, Fla., and Greensboro, N.C., in first, Charlotte, N.C., in third, Greenville, S.C., in fourth, Dayton, Ohio, in fifth and Orlando, Fla., in sixth.

SHOW ME THE MONEY: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ability to attract sponsorships and sell souvenirs helped make the third generation driver and his race team, Hendrick Motorsports, the richest in NASCAR.

According to Forbes, Earnhardt was the highest-paid driver with 2011 earnings of $28 million. Earnhardt’s value, along with Johnson, four-time champion Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne makes Hendrick the most-valuable team in the sport with an estimated worth of $350 million.

Earnhardt’s contract to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet reportedly is $10 million a year.

His endorsements and souvenirs are worth another $18 million.

Gordon was the second highest-paid driver at $24 million. Series champion Tony Stewart earned $22 million, followed by Johnson at $21 million and Carl Edwards at $15.5 million.

Danica Patrick, who will race full-time in the Nationwide Series and part-time in Sprint Cup, was the eighth highest-paid driver last year. She earned $12 million in the IndyCar Series.

Car owner Rick Hendrick’s value is nearly double the second most-valuable team. Forbes listed Roush Fenway Racing’s worth at $185 million, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing at $155 million, Richard Childress Racing at $147 million and Stewart-Haas Racing at $108 million.

KNAUS INCIDENTS

Chad Knaus has had more than one run in with NASCAR officials:

• After Jimmie Johnson won in 2005 at Las Vegas, Knaus was suspended for two races because the car was too low, but that was overturned. He was placed on probation, and the $35,000 fine and 25-point reduction was upheld.

• In 2006, Knaus was suspended after jack screws were found in the rear window that pushed the window up to block air to the rear spoiler.

• Knaus was suspended for six races and docked $100,000 in 2007 for pushing out the front fenders of Johnson’s car at the road course in Sears Point, Calif.

• Last year he was caught telling Johnson on the radio to “crack” the car after a race at Talladega – presumably to create damage so NASCAR couldn’t find any violations.

– From wire reports


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