Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are back in the spotlight at one of racing’s biggest stages – and not for the right reason.
NASCAR confiscated part of their Daytona 500 car Friday because of illegal modifications, a rocky start to Speedweeks for a team trying to bounce back from its worst season.
Sprint Cup Series officials determined the No. 48 Chevrolet had illegally modified C-posts, an area of sheet metal between the roof and the side windows. NASCAR allowed the Hendrick Motorsports team to fix that area of the car before practice begins for the Feb. 26 Daytona 500. Qualifying is scheduled for Sunday.
The No. 48 team could be fined, docked points or both following the race.
Knaus has been caught cheating before. Most notably, he was ejected before the 2006 Daytona 500 after NASCAR found illegal modifications following a qualifying session.
Also at Daytona, defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart wrecked during practice for tonight’s exhibition Budweiser Shootout. No one was seriously injured.
The cars of Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger sustained significant damage. It appeared all of those drivers were switching to backup cars.
NASCAR and track officials canceled plans to have pro golfer Bubba Watson drive the car from the television series “The Dukes of Hazzard” at Phoenix International Raceway because of concerns about a negative reaction to an image of the Confederate flag.
Watson was scheduled to drive the 1969 Dodge Charger, known as the “General Lee,” on a parade lap before the March 4 Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix. The car has a large Confederate flag on its roof, as it did when it was on the show.
“Obviously, I don’t stand for the Confederate flag,” Watson said. “The Confederate flag was not used (in the show) for what people see it as today, so that’s sad. But NASCAR was built on moonshining, so the show was built on moonshining. I thought it was fun.”
Watson recently bought the car at an auction for $110,000.
Son of Fox host killed
The 19-year-old son of NASCAR on Fox studio host Chris Myers was killed in a car accident. The network says Myers will not be part of Fox’s coverage of the Daytona 500. Christopher Myers was killed Thursday in California.