On Tuesday, the NASCAR appeals panel will hear the case from Hendrick Motorsports about the 25-point penalty levied against Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus for issues with the C-posts on the No. 48 before Daytona 500 practice.
If upheld, Knaus and car chief Ron Malec will each be suspended for six races and Knaus will be fined $100,000. The suspensions would take place before Sunday's race at Bristol — the two have worked at Phoenix and Las Vegas while waiting for the appeal to be heard.
NASCAR says that in 145 appeals heard since 1999, 101 penalties have been upheld, 31 were reduced, 11 have been overturned and, believe it or not, two have been increased. The last driver in the Sprint Cup Series to have a points penalty rescinded was Robby Gordon in 2008. And in that case, the monetary fine was actually increased from $100,000 to $150,000.
To say that former driver and current SPEED analyst Kyle Petty feels the appeals process isn't fair may be an understatement.
"You want to talk about a crapshoot," Petty said Sunday on SPEED, "This appeals process is a crapshoot. There are 45 members on this board. If you go the NASCAR rule book, you'll see these people's names. Some of them may have passed away since their names were put in here. That's how old these people are. These people shouldn't be judging Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus and some of this stuff. I challenge anybody out there to find me more than eight or 10 out of this 45 who have been to the race track in the last 12 to 24 months.
"These people don't go to the race track, they don't understand the process. They don't understand sometimes where this sport is. They're great business people. They're past drivers, champions, past sports car racers, past engine builders. Doesn't make any difference. I think they should be judged by their peers. In this environment, in this environment we race in today, if you commit a crime or you do something, you should be judged by people who understand the sport and what is going on. And I don't think the appeals process is a good process, but at the same time, I don't think the fine or what they've done to Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus is anywhere near legit. It's total BS. They never should have fined them because the car never made it onto the race track."
To note, the Michael Waltrip Racing teams of Martin Truex Jr. and David Reutimann and the JTG Daugherty team of Bobby Labonte were all docked 25 points for unapproved windshields at Talladega last fall. Those windshields were never on track. The teams' crew chiefs were also suspended for the final four races of the season.
"How can [the appeals panel] override it? They don't even understand the sport — look at the names on this list. The 'Room of Doom,' the way these templates fit and everything that goes on [in inspection] — it's a complicated process. I'm not even sure I could judge Chad on it because I don't go down there and watch them put those templates on that car. I don't know what the sport is sometimes and how it changes. I think [Mike] Helton is a better judge of it. I think [John] Darby is a better judge of it. I think Robin [Pemberton] is a better judge of it because they're right in there, but to take [the appeals hearing] out of this context and take it somewhere else, I don't appreciate that. I don't like it."
While the Hendrick camp feels — publicly, anyway — that they have a good chance at a winning appeal, the chances of the No. 48's appeal resulting in an overturned penalty are less than 10 percent according to the statistics above.
If Johnson's points penalty is overturned and he gets the 25 points back, he would immediately be 13th in the standings with 86 points. Johnson is currently 24th.