How severe should Chad Knaus' penalty be?


Chad Knaus, crew chief for five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, faces penalties after the team's car failed the initial inspection for next Sunday's Daytona 500.

The C-post, which is the sheet metal work that separates the car's rear window from the glass on the side of the car, didn't satisfy NASCAR inspectors. An altered C-post would affect the air flow across the rear deck of the car, which would impact the amount of downforce on the car. The team was forced to cut the illegal sheet metal off the car and replace it in a manner that met NASCAR specs.

Knaus has been suspended twice by NASCAR: before the 2006 Daytona 500 and a second time in 2007 before a NASCAR race in Sonoma, Calif.

How severe will the penalty be? Well, it could be big.

"It will warrant a reaction from us, more so than you've seen already," NASCAR president Mike Helton said. "Perhaps more than we've done before."

So it could be expensive for Knaus. Or it could be a long vacation for him in the form of a suspension. Helton indicated the penalty will not come until after the Daytona 500, and they are taking into consideration Knaus' past infractions.

But should NASCAR punish Knaus and, as a result, Johnson's team?

It's the first race of the year. It was the first time the team presented the car for inspection this season. Only one area of the car failed. NASCAR, rightfully, made the team make changes to the car so it will qualify and sit on the grid only after it completely passed inspection. The car will be 100 percent legal.

Isn't that the point of NASCAR's pre-race inspection?

The integrity of the race and the sport are not tainted. NASCAR found an infraction and caused it to be fixed.

Isn't that enough?