March 22, 2012
By Nicholas Schwartz
If you haven't heard already, NASCAR’s rich just got richer.
Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team were caught red-handed with illegal C-posts on his car at Daytona, subsequently docked 25 points, fined $100,000 and had crew chief Chad Knaus suspended (a near annual event in the No. 48 garage) -- but after an appeal by team owner Rick Hendrick, NASCAR has lifted all consequences save for the fine.
Johnson, who had gotten back up to 17th place in the standings after leaving Florida in the negative, will have 25 points given back and Knaus will be atop the pit box in California this Sunday.
How lame is that?
For once, we had an intriguing storyline surrounding Johnson other than “how many races will it take until he clinches the Sprint Cup this year?” The five-time champion was in a hole, and he had to claw himself out of it to make the Chase, without his crew chief for the first quarter of the regular-season.
Although no one really suspected Johnson to fail to qualify by Richmond, at least it was something. Here are a few penalties NASCAR should have imposed, rather than aide the one driver who needs help the least:
Make Jimmie Johnson change his own tires.
But since seeing Johnson run outside the top 10 for long stretches is akin to witnessing a lunar eclipse, I’m fairly confident Jimmie can be the first to succeed as a driver/crew member. He might as well fill it with Sunoco himself, too.
Force Chad Knaus to serve as crew chief from a beach in Mexico.
Knaus was originally hit with a six-race ban, but that sentence has been lifted after four races. In that span, the No. 48 car finished in the top 10 three times, and the top 5 twice. In 2006, when Knaus was suspended for an illegal adjustment to the No. 48’s rear window, Johnson won twice.
In 2007, when the No. 48 failed to pass inspection at Sonoma and Knaus was later suspended six races, Johnson recorded top 10s in four of the six he was missing for. Knaus should just go on permanent vacation and keep a scanner on standby. You've won five titles Chad, go live it up.
Make Jimmie compete in Sprint Cup races with a Nationwide car.
Sprint Cup cars and their Nationwide counterparts may look similar on the television screen, but the engines in NASCAR’s top series pack a bit more punch than in the Nationwide cars. Still, let’s see if Johnson’s driving pedigree can make up for a mechanical deficiency. If that still doesn’t hold Johnson back, NASCAR should force him to race in a jet dryer.
Make Jimmie start each season down 150 points.
In other sports, leagues keep the playing field somewhat level through awarding the worst teams each season the best draft picks, allowing each team to grow with young talent.
NASCAR doesn’t really work like that, but since Johnson is likely going to make the Chase every year for the next decade anyway and finish miles ahead of lesser teams, why not make him work for it?
Entering race No. 26 at Richmond last Fall, the gap between Johnson, in first, and Tony Stewart, in 10th, was 122 points. Handicapping Jimmie’s point total to begin the year should make for some late-season drama.
If you would like to learn more about Nicholas, please check out his web site at Sports By Schwartz. Nicholas is a Managing editor and sportswriter for The Duke Chronicle at Duke University.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.