Hendrick Motorsports will appeal the No. 48 team's Daytona penalty to its highest level after the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel decided to uphold NASCAR's original ruling on Tuesday afternoon.
The appeals panel of John Capels, Leo Mehl and Dale Pinilis unanimously decided to reject Hendrick's argument that NASCAR's six-week suspension of 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus was unjust and kept all aspects of the penalty in place. That also includes a loss of 25 points for driver Jimmie Johnson, a six-week suspension of car chief Ron Malec and a $100,000 fine for Knaus.
"We're disappointed with the outcome the way it was," team owner Rick Hendrick told reporters outside NASCAR's Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C. "But we're going to go ahead to the next level (of appeals)."
Asked why Hendrick chose to keep fighting the penalty and not just get the punishment over with by letting Knaus begin to serve his suspension, the team owner responded firmly.
"Because I don't accept it. Period," he said.
NASCAR found the No. 48 car had illegally modified C-posts – the paneling that connects the roof to the rear quarterpanel – on both sides of the vehicle prior to Daytona 500 qualifying.
That violated several rules, including one that states: "If in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted."
Knaus will be Johnson's crew chief this weekend at Bristol and for the foreseeable future until the final appeal is heard at a yet-to-be-determined date.
Hendrick said he "stands firmly" behind Knaus and the rest of the No. 48 team and said he believes in both the Hendrick personnel and its system.
He would not go into detail about Hendrick's defense at Tuesday's appeal.
NASCAR had no additional comment on the issue.