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Racing Notes

Despite losing appeal, Knaus vows to continue fight to avoid suspension

Posted: March 13, 2012 - 5:46pm

Crew chief Chad Knaus lost his appeal of a six-race suspension Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over.

Hendrick Motorsports immediately announced plans to take their argument to the highest level, the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer.

Knaus and car chief Ron Malec were suspended for six races and fined $100,000, while their driver, Jimmie Johnson, was docked 25 points for an unapproved modification to the area between the roof and the trunk deck.

NASCAR said the side of the car had been pushed out to deflect air from hitting the rear spoiler. The modification was found during pre-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500 last month.

Officials with Hendrick Motorsports argued NASCAR didn’t fit Johnson’s Chevrolet with templates before declaring it illegal. Knaus also said the car was used in all four races that use restrictor plates last year.

Car owner Rick Hendrick was upset when he left the hearing, saying, “I don’t accept it. Period.”

A three-person panel – former USAC chairman John Capels, Indy Racing League and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. executive Leo Mehl and Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis were unanimous in their rejection of Knaus’ appeal.

Knaus and Malec will be allowed to work Sunday’s race at the Bristol Motor Speedway until the final appeal is heard.

“The panel was generous with its time today, and we appreciated the opportunity to talk through our concerns,” Hendrick said. “We feel strongly about this issue and will continue to pursue it at the next level.”

Johnson currently is in 23rd place, 64 points behind series leader Greg Biffle. If the appeal had been successful, he would have vaulted to a tie for 13th place, 39 points behind.

Dodge has new car, needs teams

Dodge has a new race car for the 2013 season. All it needs now are people to drive them.

The company unveiled a new racing version of the Charger at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway last Sunday, although it doesn’t have a race team under contract to drive it.

Penske Racing announced two weeks ago it would switch from Dodge to Ford next year, leaving Dodge without a team for next year. But according to Dodge Motorsports president Ralph Gilles, his company has been getting a lot of calls.

“With the way our phone is ringing, I’m not too worried,” he said. “It’s been a pretty positive thing.”

Robby Gordon currently drives a Dodge and he would like to become a factory team.

The biggest problem for anyone moving to Dodge would be engines. Penske currently builds engines for Dodge, but that will end with the move to Ford. Starting an engine program reportedly will cost at least $10 million.