Concord, NC (Sports Network) - Hendrick Motorsports lost its appeal on Tuesday to overturn severe penalties assessed by NASCAR to Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 team for rules infractions that occurred last month at Daytona International Speedway.
On February 29, NASCAR handed down suspensions, fines and loss of points to the No. 48 team for an unapproved part found on Johnson's Daytona 500 car during the Feb. 17 opening-day inspection process. NASCAR officials discovered the C-post on Johnson's car to be illegal. A C-post is the panel that connects the rear of the car's roof to the top of the rear quarter panel or deck lid area.
As a result, crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec were suspended for six Sprint Cup Series races. Knaus received a $100,000 fine as well. Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon were penalized with the loss of 25 driver and owner points.
HMS immediately requested an appeal, which allowed Knaus and Malec to participate in this month's races at Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Shortly after its decision, the panel released a statement, saying, "Upon hearing the testimony, carefully reviewing the facts and historically comparative penalties, the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR."
The panel included: former USAC chairman John Capels, former Goodyear and Indy Racing League executive Leo Mehl, and Bowman Gray Stadium track operator Dale Pinilis.
Team owner Rick Hendrick said the racing organization will make a final appeal to National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook, who is a former General Motors executive. The date for that hearing has yet to be scheduled.
"I don't accept it, period," Hendrick said of the panel's decision.
The race suspensions for Knaus and Malec will not go into effect until the completion of the final hearing.
"It was a lot of conversation today, but of course, we're disappointed with the outcome the way it was. We're going ahead to next level, and present our case one more time. I stand firmly behind our guys, but I do applaud NASCAR for giving us a process that we can present our side of things and then try to come to conclusions."
Johnson, the five-time Sprint Cup champion, is currently 23rd in the point standings. He finished 42nd in the Daytona 500 but has rebounded nicely since then with top-five runs at Phoenix and Las Vegas. He was minus-23 in points heading to Phoenix.