Here's what FOX/SPEED analyst Darrell Waltrip and SPEED analyst Kyle Petty are saying about an appeals panel decision to uphold the NASCAR penalties on Hendrick Motorsports' No. 48 team and its crew chief, Chad Knaus:
I am surprised this wasn't overturned in some form. I really thought there would be some sort of a reduction in the penalty. The money and points fine makes sense to me, and Jimmie Johnson has made up a lot of points recently and is coming up through the point standings. But six weeks' suspension for Chad and the car chief [Ron Malec] -- I thought that was a little excessive. But there is precedent. It's not like this hasn't been done before or this is a cruel and unusual punishment.
From the panel's perspective, NASCAR and its inspectors would have had to have done something glaringly wrong at Daytona to warrant reversing the original decision and penalties. Most of us expected the panel to side with NASCAR. That doesn't mean the panel is prejudiced or acts as a rubber stamp. The panel doesn't look at circumstantial evidence. They look at what happened and what, if any, rules were broken by the team. Was the process handled in the proper manner?
If the panel is satisfied that everything was handled properly, they're unlikely to reverse a decision. If no rule had been broken by the team, the panel would have had an easy job. This process is like a football team appealing a call made on the field. The next appeal to John Middlebrook would be like the refs going to the video to make a call. But like Rick Hendrick said, "I'm glad we have a process we can appeal through. NASCAR doesn't just tell teams to ‘suck it up and move on.' At least there is a process in place."
Coming off of a unanimous decision, I really think Hendrick Motorsports has a slim-to-none chance of this being overturned by Mr. Middlebrook. As we've seen so many times in the court system, the Supreme Court oftentimes upholds what a lower court rules, especially in a decision like this. Mr. Middlebrook is the final answer. If it had been a split decision, I think Hendrick's chances in the next appeal still would be questionable, but I don't see how Mr. Middlebrook can do anything but uphold the panel's ruling.
I do think the failure to overturn the penalty has something to do with Chad Knaus' past history of infractions with NASCAR. If this was his first offense, we wouldn't see this punishment and probably wouldn't on the second offense. But this is down the road for Chad. I defend Chad 100 percent in this particular case, and I haven't always defended him; quite the contrary.
History probably does have something to do with this ruling, but I think that tendency is across all walks of life. If you're a teacher and have that kid who acts up all the time, his past behavior probably clouds your judgment of him at some point in time and eliminates any leniency you might have given him. In the legal system, with a habitual offender, the punishment is different than a first-time offender. With Chad, I think the punishment is different than it would be for [No. 24 crew chief] Steve Letarte or some of the other Hendrick crew chiefs.
I still say there was no crime committed by the No. 48 team and Knaus. This is just my opinion, and Facebook and Twitter and the rest of the world can go off all they want, but there was no crime. No one was harmed or cheated by what they did. They presented the car for initial inspection and it failed initial inspection. It never made it onto the race track, never turned the wheel or even made it to the template room.
With that in mind, the punishment doesn't fit the crime -- especially not the points penalty. But when no wheel has been turned and no points earned, it's totally against my philosophy to penalize like this.