Chad Knaus

The Cabinet of the United Stars of NASCAR

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Crew chiefs, Chase races and grading Dover
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<p> Dustin Long's Backseat Drivers Fan Council shares its thoughts on the best crew chiefs, whether the Chase length is too long or just right and grades the racing at Dover.</p>
2012

Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council take a wider look at the sport this week, judging who they think the best crew chief in the Chase is and if the length of the Chase should remain 10 races. Here’s a look at what they had to say:

Who is the best crew chief in the Chase?

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Backseat Drivers Fan Council

The All-Star Edition
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<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council weighs in on the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race from Charlotte Motor Speedway.</p>
2012

Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council don’t hold back on their opinions but the comments this week were as sharp and direct as they have ever been. They also weren’t afraid to express their opinions about their fellow fans — good and bad.

NASCAR's Comers and Go'ers

Taking stock of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series at the Easter break
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell reviews the first six NASCAR Sprint Cup races of the 2012 season as the series takes its first off-weekend.</p>
2012

Taking Stock of the 2012 Sprint Cup at the Easter Break

Six weeks into the 2012 NASCAR season, the Sprint Cup Series heads into the first of only two off-weekends of the year. With no race this weekend, and thus no fantasy picks to make, let’s take a look at some of the biggest surprises thus far, which drivers and teams are on track for a solid season and which need to turn their season around before it is too late.

Have Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus Lost Their Edge?

The Long and Short of It
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<p> Following an exciting short-track weekend in Martinsville, Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.</p>
2012

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

by Dustin Long

Tony Stewart ended Jimmie Johnson’s championship reign last year but are NASCAR fans witnessing an end of an era? For a driver who, on average, once won about one out of every six starts, Johnson has two victories in his last 50 races.

Chad Knaus Penalty Overturned

Suspensions, point penalties to 48 team reversed

by Matt Taliaferro

The National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer, John Middlebrook, reduced a penalty handed down by NASCAR to Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 team on Tuesday. Middlebrook rescinded the loss of 25 owner and driver points and the six-race suspension of crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec. The $100,000 fine remained in place.

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<p> National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook overturns NASCAR penalty levied against Hendrick Motorsports.</p>
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Oh, Say, Can You C-Post

A possible Knaus/Malec suspension will not derail the machine that is Team 48

by Vito Pugliese

You could forgive team owner Rick Hendrick if he now believes NASCAR really is an acronym standing for “Never Appeal Suspensions for Chad And Ron”.

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Vito Pugliese believes that not even a six-week suspension to team principles Chad Knaus and Ron Malec can derail the machine that is Team 48.</p>
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Hendrick Penalty Upheld

National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel upheld NASCAR penalties against Hendrick Motorsports

by Matt Taliaferro

The National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel upheld NASCAR penalties against Hendrick Motorsports and crew chief Chad Knaus on Tuesday.

Knaus was fined $100,000 and, along with car chief Ron Malec, suspended six races for unapproved C-posts on the No. 48 Chevy driven by Jimmie Johnson prior to inspection for the Daytona 500. The No. 48 team was also levied 25-point fines in the championship and owner standings.

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<p> The National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel upheld NASCAR penalties against Hendrick Motorsports and crew chief Chad Knaus on Tuesday.</p>
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Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Did NASCAR overstep the line with Chad Knaus? Are manufacturers important anymore?

by Dustin Long

The Backseats Drivers Fan Council is back! While NASCAR and tracks have their own fan councils, most people don’t see the results of what fans are asked. That’s why I started a fan council last year where anyone could answer questions about the sport and see the results, along with comments fellow council members made.

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<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council gives its opinion on NASCAR's penalty and manufacturer importance.</p>


IMPORTANCE OF CAR MANUFACTURERS TO FANS
In light of the recent announcement of Penske Racing moving from Dodge to Ford after this season, Fan Council members were asked how important is it that their favorite driver races a particular car brand. 

38.3 percent said the car brand was not important
22.9 percent said the car brand was moderately important
20.8 percent said the car brand was slightly important
18.1 percent said the car brand was very important

What Fan Council members said:

• I don't pick my drivers based on car brand. I select drivers based on talent, contributions to the sport, and society, as well as their personality.

• Something in my brain makes me feel like it SHOULD matter, but in the end I don't think it does. I like my drivers because of their personalities and the way they perform on the track - if it takes a different manufacturer to help them achieve better results, then I think I'm OK with that! 

• The cars don't look like anything that resembles a stock car, for a number of reasons. Therefore, there's hardly a reason for brand loyalty. Our favorite driver is Junior, and we could care less that he's driving a Chevy, even though our favorite vehicles are Fords.

• Historically, I have been a Chevy fan. I previously only cheered on drivers who were racing Chevys. I guess with the COT and the lack of "REAL" brand identity, I've soften a bunch. However, my favorite driver does drive a Chevy.

• As long as my driver doesn't switch to a Toyota, I'm fine...not saying I would pick a new driver at that point but I sure wouldn't be happy! This used to be referred to as "The Great American Sport" and it pains me to see that one manufacturer has changed all that!

• If the King can successfully shift to Ford, anyone should be able to drive the make that offers them the best opportunity for success

• Always been a Ford fan, but had to swallow hard and root when Mark Martin moved to Chevy and now Toyota.

• While I make it a point only to purchase vehicles made by NASCAR manufacturers, it actually isn't that important to me if my favorite is behind the wheel of a Chevy or a Toyota - as long as he's winning!


FAVORITE MANUFACTURER
Fan Council members were asked what was their favorite car manufacturer competing in NASCAR and why.

58.1 percent listed Chevrolet as their favorite
22.0 percent listed Ford as their favorite
14.1 percent listed Toyota as their favorite
5.8 percent listed Dodge as their favorite

What Fan Council members said:

• My pops may not have had a whole lot of hard and fast rules when I was a kid, but I remember this one distinctly. "Don't ever drive up here in a FORD." We were Earnhardt fans, Chevy people through and through. I would even go so far to say that I honestly don't care who wins as long as they are driving a Chevy. To this day I tow my Chevy race car to Midwest dirt tracks with a Chevy Silverado.

• Don't have one. Personally, I don't have ties to any manufacturer and will not pledge blind allegiance to one. The American manufacturers were once the leaders in their industry. But they grew complacent and failed to listen to the consumers and continued to produce inferior products while selling better products overseas.

• For NASCAR it would be Chevrolet due to the deep history in the sport. For my personal use, it's Toyota due to dependability and value.

• I believe in the Toyota product and have owned several. Love Toyota being in NASCAR shaking up the good ole boys. And for me, my driver favorites are based upon the car they drive. Smoke in a Toyota, Go Smoke! Smoke in a Chevy, good for him. (Martin) Truex Jr. in a Chevy, good for him. Guess what? I now pull for Truex Jr.! I pull for all the big boys in a Toyota except for Kyle Busch. I am loyal to Brand.

• Ford, because they haven't taken a dime of your money that you haven't freely and willingly given them as a customer. Ford has supported the Wood Brothers since the late 50's, and I own a Ford.

• Was born and raised to like Chevy and hate Ford and Dodge.

• I drive a Ford. I like Jack Roush.

• Both my husband and I pull for Chevy drivers...plan on our next car being a Chevy mainly to reward their hard work to get the company back on track.


RISING GAS PRICES EQUALS SLIDING ATTENDANCE?
With gas prices rising (and topping $4 a gallon in some parts of the country), Fan Council members were asked if the cost of gas would impact their decision to attend a NASCAR race this year.

57.5 percent rising gas prices would not impact their travel plans
17.8 percent said they won’t be attending a NASCAR race, partly due to rising gas prices
16.8 percent said they are changing their plans to attend a NASCAR race closer to home
7.9 percent said gas prices won’t impact their plans unless it tops $4 a gallon nationally

What Fan Council members said:

• I won't attend Dover or Bristol as I'd planned to do.

• I go to both Talladega races each year, and that will not change. I haven't planned to go to any other tracks this year, but if gas was to go down it would help my decision a little bit.

• We're only a 7-hour drive from Kansas Speedway. My car does pretty good on fuel. I don't think it will affect me. We can only afford one race anyway. We'll just have to cut back on something else.

• Always make room in the budget for a race!

• I usually go to Martinsville and Pocono at least once a year. Both of those tracks are 4 hours from my home. This year my husband (a new fan finally) and I are attending the Richmond race in April. Richmond is about 1.5 hours from home.

• I have given up on going to TMS this year, but will go to Chicago since it is closer.

• It does make me re-consider plans, yet I am still attending Daytona, Martinsville, Rockingham, Richmond, and Dover this year. I am lucky that there are so many races I can go to and come back in the same day from my home in SE Virginia. If these high prices are sustained or get even higher it will certainly impact my future travel plans.

• I live in Seattle...I considered driving to Phoenix for the race. At 2800 miles I'm looking at $400.00 worth of gas alone to make that trip, so I watched from the sofa. I'm still considering Sonoma...a more reasonable 1600-mile roundtrip.

• We've already renewed our race tickets and camping spots for 2012 for the 5 races we plan on attending. We have a diesel motor home and fuel prices are important but this is what we do for vacation and budget accordingly. We take advantage of the easy pay plans and have them paid for before we attend them. It's great that the tracks offer these wonderful ways to make attending the races more affordable.

• Please. I'll drop my lattes before I'll cut back on my NASCAR races.

• My husband and I plan on going to Talladega in May. The only thing that could stop us are the gas prices. If they do go over $4 a gallon, we probably won't be able to make it.

• I’ll walk to Bristol if I have too.


RATING SUNDAY’S CUP RACE FROM PHOENIX

53.1 percent called it Good
33.1 percent called it Fair
11.7 percent called it Great
2.1 percent called it Poor

What Fan Council members said: 

• Fair number of leader changes, good mix of drivers and manufacturers up front and not too many cautions. Just how I like it!

• It wasn't the most exciting race, but it never is at Phoenix.

• The racing was most exciting in the few laps after restarts. Things tended to get a bit strung out during the longer green flag runs, but the race race still held my attention pretty well. I also liked watching the drivers negotiate the dogleg on the backstretch - I think PIR did a good job re-configuring the track last year.

• Length was OK, not too long. Racing action was real good. I prefer tracks this size and smaller, or road courses.

• I was there in person, turn 1 Allison Grandstands, the race was absolutely fantastic. Saw the whole race ... no commercial interruption, and the great play-by-play work by MRN made it 100% enjoyable.

• Great. Fuel strategy and good side-by-side racing through the field. Some parts of the race were single file but you will have that at non-restrictor plate tracks. There's nothing we can do about it. It cannot be 3 or 4 wide every lap. People who understand racing will know this.

• I think I OD'd on Daytona because I just wasn't ready for another race. It was okay, but it didn't hold my attention very well. 

• Fuel mileage races are not too exciting. I would prefer to see drivers race for the win. They call this sport racing not strategy.

Fans can join the Backseat Drivers Fan Council by sending Dustin an email at [email protected]

Please include the following information:
Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.
 

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Chad Knaus: An Appeal for Ingenuity

Does NASCAR's punishment fit Knaus' crime?

by Vito Pugliese

As if starting out the 2012 NASCAR season by getting turned mid-pack on the second lap of the Daytona 500, it was announced Wednesday that Chad Knaus, crew chief for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, will be suspended for six races and fined $100,000 for tinkering with the C-posts of the car prior to qualifying for Daytona. Also on involuntary leave will be car chief Ron Malec, another key cog to the five straight championships Jimmie Johnson and team won from 2006-10.

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Vito Pugliese examines the penalty levied by NASCAR on crew chief Chad Knaus for actions at Daytona.</p>
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