Hendrick Motorsports, Jimmie Johnson penalty overturned on final appeal
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(NASCAR) - Penalties levied against Hendrick Motorsports' No. 48 team driven by Jimmie Johnson were overturned Tuesday.
National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook rescinded the loss of 25 driver points, 25 owner points and six-race suspensions for crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec. The decision was reached after a final appeal hearing at NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, N.C.
Middlebrook also ruled that the $100,000 fine assessed to Knaus would stand, and that Knaus and Malec would be placed on probation until May 9.
"It's not about vindication," Knaus said. "It's over with. It's time to move on, time to focus on trying to make the Chase and seeing what we can do with the 48 team."
Said team owner Rick Hendrick: "I'm just glad this is over . . . but at least there's a process. That's the way we look at it. In years back, you didn't have this."
The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team had requested the final stage of appeals March 13, after the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel's three members unanimously ruled to retain the original penalties for alleged illegal modifications to Johnson's Chevrolet for the Daytona 500.
Johnson's car failed inspection Feb. 17 before the season-opening race, held 10 days later. The "C" posts that connect the roof to the rear deck lid were confiscated after officials ruled the bodywork measurements to be too far out of tolerance to fit NASCAR templates. NASCAR handed down the original penalties Feb. 29.
Tuesday's ruling means Johnson rises from a tie for 17th place in the points to sole possession of 11th; he now has 121 points, 36 behind NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leader Greg Biffle.
It also means Knaus will be at the track with Johnson's No. 48 this Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Updated March 20, 2012