Johnson still hopeful NASCAR will reverse penalty on No. 48 team
A day after it was revealed that Hendrick Motorsports would appeal Thursday’s P1 penalty against his No. 48 team, driver Jimmie Johnson offered his support for the process and expressed optimism that NASCAR would reverse its decision.
NASCAR announced Wednesday that, after receiving written warnings in back-to-back events the past two weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson’s team must serve a P1 level penalty — in this case, one of the last two choices in the pit-selection process, respective to qualifying results, for Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.
The No. 48 team was first warned by NASCAR for manipulating the car’s side skirts in an effort to improve downforce during the May 16 Sprint All-Star Race.
Tampering with side skirts to gain an aerodynamic advantage was permitted last year, but NASCAR banned the practice ahead of the 2015 season.
Johnson’s team then received a separate warning for issues in Coca-Cola 600 pre-qualifying inspection last weekend, resulting in the automatic P1 penalty on NASCAR’s six-tier Deterrence System.
However, as part of Thursday’s appeal, Hendrick Motorsports asked that the penalty against Johnson and his team be deferred — a request that NASCAR approved. The decision allows Johnson to pit in his rightful place at Dover and until a final NASCAR ruling.
No date for the appeal has been set by NASCAR, but the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion is holding out hope that the sanctioning body will ultimately rule in his team’s favor.
Prior to the Coca-Cola 600, Johnson said he was "shocked" to learn that his team had received a warning for tampering with the side skirts during a pit stop in the previous weekend’s All-Star Race.
Asked on Friday at Dover if he was more bothered by the warning for the side skirts than the separate warning for issues during Coke 600 inspection, Johnson didn’t answer the question directly, but voiced his frustration, nevertheless.
"We definitely don’t agree with what has happened and getting the letters," he said. "That is why the appeal has taken place. I look forward to the appeal process running its course and respect it.
"I certainly hope for a different outcome once everything runs its course."
As for Sunday’s race at Dover, Johnson wants to bounce back from a rough two weekends at Charlotte and make history at a track where he is already the sport’s all-time wins leader with nine victories.
A win by Johnson on Sunday afternoon would make him one of just five drivers to capture 10 trophies at the same track.
"It’s crazy for me to have this reality. It’s nothing that I thought would happen," said Johnson, after pacing Friday’s lone Sprint Cup practice at the Monster Mile. "I’m certainly enjoying the moment while I’m here. My mind has had to switch over to a different role in certain scenarios, and the championship scenario, obviously. At this racetrack, and at Martinsville … there are a few tracks where I’m in a really neat position to chase history.
"Again, it’s not a situation I ever thought I’d find myself in, but now that I’m here, it’s certainly in front of me. It’s on my mind and it’s something I would love to do."
VIDEO: Jimmie Johnson heads to garage after second spin of the night in Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte