Associated Press, Published February 17 2012
NASCAR seizes C-posts of Johnson's Daytona 500 car
NASCAR 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.
NASCAR allowed the Hendrick Motorsports team to fix that area of the car before practice begins for the Feb. 26 Daytona 500. Qualifying 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 and crew chief Chad Knaus could be penalized following the series’ premier event.
“When we get back to North Carolina after the Daytona 500, we will address any further actions that may come out as a result of this,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said.
Howes said modifying C-posts would provide an aerodynamic advantage.
“Yeah, any bodywork area, everybody's always looking,” Howes said. “It's an area that you'll go as far as you can because, yes, it will affect the performance of the car. That's the nature of this kind of racing, especially at Daytona. That's an area that teams will work in. The 48 obviously went too far.”
He said he hasn't asked Knaus for an explanation on how or why the modifications were made. He said it could be that the template didn't fit properly.
“You work within the templates the best way you think and you're trying to do a better job than the next guy,” Howes said. “And I did not see the grid on the car, so I can't tell exactly where it missed, but NASCAR said it wasn't right, so it's not right. We don't have an argument with that.”
Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said he believed the other three Hendrick Motorsports cars — those driven by Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne — passed inspection.
Knaus has been caught cheating before.
Most notably, he was sent home before the 2006 Daytona 500 after NASCAR officials found illegal modifications following a qualifying session. Last season, Knaus was caught on camera telling Johnson that if he won a race at Talladega he needed to “crack the back of the car,” apparently to build an explanation in case the car did not past post-race inspection.
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