NASCAR Kansas 2013: Johnson denies Hendrick 'ratted out' Penske to NASCAR

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmie Johnson was adamant Friday that Hendrick Motorsports had nothing to do with NASCAR finding illegal parts on the cars of Penske Racing.

The buzz in the garage is that NASCAR was tipped off to possible rules violations on the Penske Racing cars by someone from Hendrick Motorsports.

And it was that bit of information that led NASCAR to confiscate the rear-end housings from Penske last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway and subsequently penalize the team Wednesday.

This theory is supported by the fact that Jimmie Johnson's car was parked next to the garage stall of Brad Keselowski at Texas, while Johnson's teammate Jeff Gordon had his car alongside the Penske Ford of Joey Logano, giving both Hendrick entries ample opportunity to see what their rival was up to.

Johnson, however, says that isn't the case and that no one at Hendrick was the culprit.

"No, the Hendrick group and the No. 48 team did not rat out the Penske cars," Johnson said Friday at Kansas Speedway. "In no way shape or form did anybody from the No. 48 car walk into that truck and say anything.

"When a team sees something they have two options. One, they go home and try to adapt it to their car and understand it and see if they can make it work or they go in the truck and say something. We don't say something. We are a company built on performance."

Because the garage area is open and drivers, crew chiefs, mechanics and the like are able to get a clear look at what the opposition is doing to their cars, the longstanding belief of NASCAR is that in a way the competitors police themselves.

In essence there is no way for a secret to remain a secret.

"Everybody has people watching," Johnson said. "We have been very impressed with the (No.) 2 car's staff and their ability to have somebody just stand and watch other teams.

"The best officiating in the garage area has always been your neighbor. That has just been part of NASCAR for years and years. That is why NASCAR has the procedures in place that they do in the garage area and why even in F1 today they are not allowed to cover their stuff anymore. It's just part of it."

Thus is the reason why Richard Petty said Friday that "undoubtedly, somebody told on the Penske crowd." This would also explain Keselowski's post-race rant at Texas where he adamantly stated that his team was being "targeted," alluding to the fact that NASCAR inspectors had been tipped off.

Another layer in this tangled web is that last year, Keselowski made comments regarding what Hendrick was doing to the rear suspension of its cars.

At one point the defending Sprint Cup Series champion even said Penske needed to further push the envelope and work more in the gray area of the rulebook.

Apparently, however, Penske went too far outside of what was legal and is why NASCAR suspended the crew and car chiefs for Keselowski and Logano along with the team's competition director, fined each crew chief $100,000 and docked both drivers 25 points.

Because these things have a way of coming back around, in the future Johnson thinks it might be better for his rival to bite his lip before he says something about what another team is doing.

"Brad is a huge talent," Johnson said. "But as we all know, Brad will say things. And when you're in the sport long enough, you learn when you need to be careful. And no team is immune to the issues.

"I've learned and have also clearly experienced some issues where man, you just do your thing and there's no need to spout off what other people are up to. I think there have been a few lessons that Brad has learned along the way this year as to when to say something."

Johnson, who knows a thing or two about having a crew chief suspended, did point out that he thinks Keselowski is an "awesome driver" and thinks once the penalties are served the Penske cars will be back towards the front contending for wins.

Until then, however, it's going to be challenge.

"Good teams and drivers will always survive," Johnson said. "But it's going to put a lot of stress in their world the next six, eight, or ten weeks, depending on how long the appeals last and all that. And we'll all see how they respond to it."

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