With less than 60 laps to go in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR officials came over the radio and ordered Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus and Hendrick Motorsports officials to the hauler after the race.
NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp indicated the six-time championship crew chief was called to the hauler for "disobeying a NASCAR directive," but would not elaborate.
Not part of the championship battle between Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman, Johnson was a factor in the top 10 for much of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 after starting from the 12th spot. In the end, Johnson finished the night in the ninth spot, finishing 11th overall in the championship standings.
After the race NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development Robin Pemberton indicated the issue was not of great significance.
"We just had a discussion on pit road between our official and Chad," he said. "Really it was just to discuss what they tried to do and that’s it really. It’s really not a big deal. We were just trying to clarify what went on."
The issue at hand was the fact Knaus tried to put a wheel spacer on the car, but the NASCAR official told him not to do it.
"It’s fine, everything’s done," said Pemberton. "We just wanted to clear the air and clarify everything. It was really a non-issue."
Pemberton "wouldn’t get into the weeds" on the specifics of the rules surrounding a wheel spacer, but said it would have been best had Knaus asked the NASCAR official for permission.
"In the heat of the battle — it’s fine, everything’s fine," he said, indicating no penalties would follow. "It’s so far under that it’s ridiculous. We’re good."
Pemberton also indicated that NASCAR officials would begin looking at the rear end confiscated from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s car after qualifying on starting Monday at the research and development facility.
After the race, Johnson took to his Twitter account to explain the reasoning behind Knaus’ decision and deflect some of the criticism directed at the No. 48 team.
FYI: CK put a wheel spacer on because of a loose wheel. That destroys the threads on the studs & won't let the wheel tighten up