NASCAR Mishandled The Jimmie Johnson Situation


Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

For starters, I respect Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus. I respect what they have accomplished and I believe that they will win a seventh championship together before this is all said and done. Despite the respect that I have for the duo, I also understand that together they might push the envelope more than any other team in the NASCAR garage. Although that is one of the things that I like about them, I also believe that when you push too far; there needs to be appropriate consequences.

More from Jimmie Johnson

NASCAR dropped the ball when it came to issuing appropriate consequences for Johnson and the No. 48 team following the Sprint All-Star Race.

Prior to this season NASCAR made it clear that the trend of flaring the side-skirts on the cars would no longer be tolerated. NASCAR made it clear to the teams and drivers that anyone caught doing this would be in trouble. Flash forward to March where the No. 2 team was caught with flared side-skirts prior to qualifying. The result is that they were held until the issue was resolved and NASCAR place Paul Wolfe on probation.

One would have to assume that this would be the baseline for such actions. The No. 2 car never even made it to the track with the manipulated skirts and the result was probation for Wolfe.

That brings us to the Sprint All-Star race where Johnson was caught with flared skirts. It’s hard to see when it happened during the race but it’s more than obvious that the skirts on the No. 48 machine were flared. In fact, the skirts on the No. 5 machine of Kasey Kahne were also flared at one point but after one of the pit stops in the race they were pushed back in. While the Sprint All-Star Race is not a points-race, it is still a race and rules are still rules.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Had the No. 48 machine been seen with the skirts during the race they would have been summoned to pit road to fix the issue. Since the issue was not detected during the race it was announced that NASCAR was looking into and possible penalties could follow.

Given the way that NASCAR handled Wolfe and the No. 2 team, it seemed as though a penalty for Knaus was on the horizon. However, on Tuesday NASCAR announced that the No. 48 team simply received a written warning. Written warnings are the first step on the way to receiving an actual violation should the behavior or actions described in the written warning continue. Essentially, the written warning isn’t a punishment unless the No. 48 team is foolish enough to manipulate their side-skirts again in the future.

According to, Knaus said that the skirts were pulled out while the No. 48 team was repairing damage to their car. Keep in mind that this is plausible given the mishaps with Johnson during the All-Star Race. That being said, some might find it hard to believe that the skirts on both sides of the car ended up being flared as a result of trying to fix damage. Also, while the mistake could have been innocent it is something that should have been noticed during the event and corrected before the end.

I agree with the majority of Johnson fans in that what he did this past weekend had no impact on his race seeing as how he didn’t run well. However, that simply isn’t the point. The point is that a rule was broken and NASCAR had already set a baseline about how they would handle such things. Whether or not the race counts towards championship points or not should not matter. In the NFL something as serious as a positive drug test or wearing the wrong color socks is the same penalty whether it be pre-season or the regular season. I’m not saying with certainty that NASCAR took the type of race into consideration but it’s hard to think they didn’t when you compare it to the Keselowski situation. The right thing to do here would have been to place Knaus on probation. Since it wasn’t a points-race it didn’t need to be for as long as Wolfe was placed on probation but the punishment should have been comparable.

NASCAR brings enough issues upon themselves and there are already more than enough tin foil theories when it comes to the No. 48 team. This situation was a slam dunk for NASCAR to not leave any speculation for favoritism and they failed miserably.

Next: Five Changes NASCAR Needs To Make ASAP