DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are back in the spotlight at one of racing’s biggest stages — and not for the right reason.
NASCAR confiscated part of their Daytona 500 car Friday because of illegal modifications, a rocky start to Speedweeks for a team trying to bounce back from its worst season.
Sprint Cup Series officials determined the No. 48 Chevrolet had illegally modified C-posts, an area of sheet metal between the roof and the side windows.
Officials cut off the C-posts and planned to ship them to NASCAR’s research and development center in Concord, N.C., for further testing. In the meantime, the parts in question were put on display for other teams to examine, a routine procedure for the sanctioning body.
NASCAR allowed the Hendrick Motorsports team to fix that area of the car. Qualifying for the Feb. 26 race is scheduled for Sunday.
“Well, it’s a hell of a way to start the 2012 season,” said Ken Howes, vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports. “But the car obviously failed inspection and NASCAR has directed us how they want it fixed and we’re busy doing that. We’re waiting on some parts to arrive and we’ll put it back together and run it through inspection again.”
The No. 48 team could be fined, docked points or both following the series’ premier event.
“There’s always a potential, but we’ll just wait until after Speedweeks is over with,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition.
The 19-year-old son of NASCAR on Fox studio host Chris Myers was killed Thursday in a car accident in Southern California. The network said Myers will not be part of Fox’s coverage of the season-opening Daytona 500. Fox said Myers will be given as much time off as he needs.