Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus Hit Hard by Daytona Penalties

Ben MontedonicoContributor IIIFebruary 29, 2012

Jimmie Johnson now sits dead last in the standings, 23 points in the hole after his penalty
Jimmie Johnson now sits dead last in the standings, 23 points in the hole after his penaltyStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

NASCAR has dropped the hammer hard on five-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR announced on Wednesday that it is penalizing Johnson 25 driver points, putting him dead last in the standings at -23 points after his 42nd-place finish in the Daytona 500.

Johnson's point total marks the first time that a driver has had negative points since Michael Waltrip in 2007, when his car failed tech inspection at Daytona as well.

Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus has been suspended by NASCAR for six races and fined $100,000.

The infraction took place on the Friday before Daytona 500 qualifying, when NASCAR officials found the C-posts on Johnson's No. 48 car to be out of tolerance, so much so that some officials claimed it was evident to the naked eye.

Team owner Rick Hendrick has stated that he will appeal Johnson's penalty, and he issued this statement:

 "Our organization respects NASCAR and the way the sanctioning body governs our sport. In this case, though, the system broke down, and we will voice our concerns through the appeal process."

Hendrick was also docked 25 car owner points for the No. 48, and car chief Ron Malec has also been suspended for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races along with Knaus.

Johnson and crew will now head to Phoenix to try and claw out of a major points deficit. With the team he has, it is still likely he'll make the Chase. But his hopes at getting into the 10-race playoff just got much harder.