Johnson still hopeful despite challenges

Johnson still hopeful despite challenges

Jimmie Johnson still hopes he can wheel the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy into victory lane at Daytona. However, he's going to have to do it without his crew chief. Earlier this week Chad Knaus was ejected from all Daytona 500 activities after an ...

Jimmie Johnson still hopes he can wheel the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy into victory lane at Daytona. However, he's going to have to do it without his crew chief.

Earlier this week Chad Knaus was ejected from all Daytona 500 activities after an unapproved lowering device (consisting of a jackbolt in the rear window) was discovered on the No. 48 car.

Jimmie Johnson.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
"I just felt it was necessary to come in," said Johnson who visited with the media on Wednesday. "I know everybody is busy and obviously what took place is very damaging to the Lowe's team. A lot of people have questions."

Johnson was gracious and contrite and didn't bother to try and defend Knaus decisions that caused the suspension. Knaus is a repeat offender and has been warned and fined by NASCAR many times for breaking the rules.

"The drivers just get in and drive the cars," Johnson explained. "I do know that the team and crew chief are responsible for everything that takes place. They're going to work as hard as they can to work over all the gray areas. And with that in mind, gray areas were looked at and worked over.

"When the car came back, the template didn't fit. Chad (Knaus) and the team and I accept what has happened. We're trying to move forward and move on and get into the Duel and do our best job in that race and then into the (Daytona) 500 and try to win the 500. But there is no doubt that NASCAR was put into a position to make a ruling and (they) made the ruling and we're going to live with it and go on and try to do the best we can down here."

Johnson has eight starts at Daytona, all with Knaus on the pit box. His best finish in the Daytona 500 was a third place in 2003. He has had back- to-back fifth places at this race in 2004 and 2005.

The last few years' restrictor plate races have not been kind to Johnson. He was accused of starting two of the season's biggest wrecks last year and some of his dominance has been taken into question now that his team has been caught cheating again.

"I hate it. I don't like it," Johnson said. "Hendrick Motorsports doesn't like it. Lowe's doesn't like it. But in our sport, we are paid to push the envelope. We are paid to work hard in the gray areas, especially the crew chiefs. That is where Chad has found some success and where Chad has helped Hendrick Motorsports grow to the next level.

"It is just unfortunate that something like this has happened at the start of the season at the biggest race and there's a huge thing that goes along with it."

Additional penalties against Knaus are anticipated including fines and a possible loss of points for the No. 48 team which will not be announced until after the Daytona 500.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Eric Gilbert , Chad Knaus
Teams Hendrick Motorsports