For the first time since Tuesday's surprising ruling by chief appellate officer John Middlebrook to rescind the bulk of the penalties levied against the No. 48 team, Jimmie Johnson spoke with the media and said the decision proves his car was legal at Daytona.
But as pleased as the five-time champ is, his happiness was tempered by Middlebrook's choice to uphold both the fine and probation levied against crew chief Chad Knaus.
"I don't feel vindicated, because I feel like everything should have been overturned," Johnson said Friday at Auto Club Speedway in California.
Johnson though, like the majority of those who cover and follow the sport, is confused as to why Knaus was fined $100,000 and placed on probation when it was determined a rules violation hadn't been committed.
Johnson's question: How can one be fined and placed on probation if no rules infraction was found?
"I'm not totally happy with the decision," Johnson said. "I'm pleased the big issues came down, but I share confusion as well. We didn't feel a penalty was warranted in the first place. We're just as curious."
But despite the confusion, the important thing to come out of Tuesday's ruling is the fact Johnson won't be without his crew chief for any period of time and he gets back the 25 valuable points NASCAR had originally deducted. As a result, Johnson moved from 17th in the Sprint Cup standings to 11th – just one point out of 10th.
"We're pleased we didn't have the suspension and we got our points back," Johnson said. "It puts us right there, just outside the top 10, and the disruption if we were to lose Chad and Ron (Malec, car chief) would have been huge. We have depth, but you don't want to go to the race track without your crew chief and car chief.
"But again, we felt like there was no penalty warranted."
As for NASCAR president Mike Helton's contention earlier in the day Friday that the C-posts found on the 48 car at Daytona were illegal, Johnson says Tuesday's ruling speaks for itself.
"We are agreeing to disagree – respectfully," Johnson said. "NASCAR has their side and we have our side. If we didn't prove those C-posts were legal, we wouldn't have won the appeal."
Now that the appeals process is over, Johnson is focused on getting back to Victory Lane, he hopes as soon as this Sunday at a track where he's won five times previously (including his first Sprint Cup victory in 2002).
"It's behind us," he said. "The decision has been made, there are no more steps in the process and now it's time to get on the track and get to work."