5-time champ Johnson wrecks early in Daytona 500

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Johnson’s car failed initial inspection Feb. 17, and NASCAR officials have indicated that crew chief Chad Knaus will be penalized.

The car had illegally modified sheet metal between the roof and the side windows _ the area known as the C-posts. NASCAR took the C-posts from the Hendrick Motorsports team and shipped them to its research and development facility for more testing.

Knaus has been suspended twice before by NASCAR, including before the 2006 Daytona 500.

He also was suspended in 2007 for violations to the body of Johnson’s car discovered during opening-day inspection at Sonoma. He was allowed to finish the weekend but was suspended for six weeks after the event.

Knaus has not been seriously punished by NASCAR since 2007, although he was scrutinized last season when in-car audio captured him telling Johnson to “crack” the back of the car against the wall if he won at Talladega _ an apparent effort to skirt a potential post-race inspection.

NASCAR said the audio was not enough evidence to warrant any punishment.

So not only did the team fail to turn two laps, now it must deal with ramifications from the failed inspection. NASCAR said those would come after the Daytona 500.

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