DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Jimmie Johnson's season didn't start exactly as he had hoped when his car failed pre-inspection last week for the Daytona 500.
NASCAR confiscated the C-Posts of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet in that inspection process and speculation is a heavy fine and possible suspension for crew chief Chad Knaus awaits after this weekend's Daytona 500.
The five-time champion has faced this situation before when Knaus was suspended for violations during Speedweeks of the 2006 season and overcame that adversity to actually win the Daytona 500 with interim crew chief Darian Grubb as the helm.
But he realizes the turn of events has already presented a challenge in his quest for a sixth championship and second 500 win.
“It is not good for any team that goes through it," Johnson said Thursday at Daytona. "It certainly puts a tough wrinkle on things, but at this point I would be purely speculating. I am hopeful and want to be optimistic that wouldn’t be the case, but I don’t have any more news. So, we are going to have to wait until Tuesday to see where things shake out.”
Johnson has spent the off-season talking about how motivated he is to return to the top of the Sprint Cup point standings at season's end and is trying to turn this latest obstacle into another positive by trying to take Knaus to victory lane for the first time at Daytona.
“There is definitely a piece of me that wants to have that Victory Lane photo with him," he said. "He was certainly a huge part of us winning in 2006, but I want him to have the photo to put on his desk that he was there in Victory Lane. It adds a small percentage to it. Nothing can dilute or change my mindset and desire to try to win the 500. That is pinned already. It would be a nice perk though, to do it for that reason.”