A NASCAR appeals board has upheld the penalties against No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec for problems with the 48 car discovered before Daytona.
Shortly after 2:30 p.m. Eastern, NASCAR announced the verdict. Just as quickly, Hendrick Motorsports announced it will appeal that decision to NASCAR's chief appellate officer, John Middlebrook. That allows Knaus to handle crew chief duties at Bristol.
"I don't accept it, period," team owner Rick Hendrick said of the decision, speaking to reporters outside NASCAR's R&D center. "Chad will be at Bristol. I believe in my guys and I believe in the system."
Prior to the Daytona 500, NASCAR officials discovered what they determined to be illegal C-posts (the area directly behind the side windows) on Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 car. Though the car never reached the track, NASCAR penalized the team for "actions detrimental to stock car racing." The penalty includes a six-race suspension for Knaus and Malec, a $100,000 fine for Knaus, and a 25-point penalty for the 48 team. That penalty has kept Johnson out of the top 20; without it, he would be in 13th place, one point behind Kyle Busch and tied with Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman.
Henrick immediately appealed the initial penalty, setting up Tuesday's hearing before a four-person panel: John Capels (former USAC chairman), Leo Mehl (former Goodyear executive), Dale Pinilis (Bowman Gray Stadium operator) and Ed Bennett (CEO of the Grand Am Series), a non-voting member.
"Upon hearing the testimony, carefully reviewing the facts and historically comparative penalties, the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR," the board said in a statement.
According to NASCAR stats, in 145 appeals heard since 1999, 101 were upheld, 31 were reduced, 11 were overturned, and two were increased.
"The panel was generous with its time today, and we appreciated the opportunity to talk through our concerns," Hendrick said in a statement. "We feel strongly about this issue and will continue to pursue it at the next level."