NASCAR Sprint Cup: Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Lose Penalty Appeal

David DeNennoContributor IIIMarch 13, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, walks in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 9, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

According to USA Today, Hendrick Motorsports has lost its appeal for inspection infractions leading up to the Daytona 500.

This will certainly put a damper on the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet team's season, at least for a while.

Thus, Johnson will remain at his current standing in the points race in 23rd place. Had the decision been overturned, Johnson would have entered Bristol Motor Speedway in the Food City 500 in 13th place.

The decision was not taken well by team owner Rick Hendrick. He bluntly stated, "I don't accept it."

Team crew chief Chad Knaus will be present at Bristol this week, pending a final appeal. According to the original penalty, he would miss six races if this final appeal is lost. Car owner Jeff Gordon was also fined 25 owner points.

In a re-Tweet from Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson noted that "Hendrick Motorsports will continue appeal of NASCAR sanctions."

Despite the setback, The No. 48 team has looked very strong in the early part of the season.

In an ironic twist of fate, Johnson is serving a penalty for a race in which his car only ran one lap. He made an early exit in the Daytona 500 on a Lap 2 crash that also involved rookie Danica Patrick.

The last weeks have been very positive for Johnson, posting a second-place finish most recently at Las Vegas, coupled with a fourth-place finish immediately after the Daytona 500 in Phoenix.

Johnson has never missed the Chase in the course of a season where he ran a full schedule. Though this is certainly a setback, his recent efforts have shown a likelihood that he will indeed return to the Chase to try and claim a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title.