Nearly lost admit the furor of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup championship deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway was a late race issue between the Hendrick Motorsports team of driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus. Nearing the three-quarter mark of the race, shortly after a round of pit stops, NASCAR officials told Knaus as well as several representatives from the organization including the competition director, that they would need to report to the NASCAR hauler after the race.
Any competitor called to the NASCAR hauler can usually expect a less than pleasant meeting. The only information that leaked out prior to the meeting was that Knaus had not followed a NASCAR directive. After the race in which Johnson finished ninth, Knaus, Johnson and executive vice president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports Doug Duchardt dutifully reported to the hauler.
Afterwards Duchardt and NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton met with the media and said the entire incident was really over nothing.
“We just had a discussion on pit road between our official and Chad and really it was just to discuss what they tried to do,” Pemberton said. “That’s it, really. It was really not a big deal. We were just trying to clarify what went on, that’s all.”
According to Duchardt, the incident was over whether a spacer could be placed on a wheel. During a pit stop, Knaus wanted to put a spacer on a wheel to help the threads on the lugnut tighten. Duchardt said Knaus wanted to put the spacer on but the NASCAR official in their pit box told them not to; it was all a misunderstanding Duchardt added saying it was a common situation. Later Pemberton refused to say if the incident broke any NASCAR rules.
“I’m not going to get into the weeds on that, but sometimes if you thought you had an issue with a wheel stud or something mechanical like that, you may need to put a spacer on to get some clean threads for the lug nuts,” Pemberton said. “I have no idea, and that’s not our question. It really is such a small, minute deal that it’s fine. Everything’s good.”
Pemberton added that there would be no further action or penalties from NASCAR . He also said had Knaus asked permission to place the wheel spacer, the disagreement would have never taken place.
“That would be a better way to do that, but in the heat of the battle, it’s fine,” Pemberton said. “Everything’s fine. It’s so far under that, it’s ridiculous. We’re good.”
Johnson later posted on his Twitter account:
“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 #ChillHaters”