Knaus Ejected From Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – This time Chad Knaus didn't get off so easy and he'll be watching the Daytona 500 at home like millions of other fans.

NASCAR announced Monday that NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chief Knaus has been ejected from any further participation in 2006 Daytona 500 activities as a result of a rules infraction discovered following pole qualifying runs Sunday.

Knaus is the crew chief for the No. 48 Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson, which car failed post-qualifying template inspection in the rear window area.

Johnson had posted the fifth fastest time of Sunday's session but it was disallowed. He will start at the rear of the field in the first of two 150-mile qualifying races Thursday.

"We understand NASCAR's position," said team owner Rick Hendrick. "Our expectations for the team remain high. It's a deep, championship-caliber group and they'll step up this weekend."

Darian Grubb, lead engineer for the Nos. 24 and 48 Hendrick Motorsports teams, will immediately assume Knaus' at-track duties.

"It's obviously disappointing to miss the biggest race of the year, but I'm confident in Darian and the rest of my teammates," Knaus said. "There's been a lot of effort put into the Daytona 500 and I know the team will be successful with the support they'll receive from the entire organization."

Knaus has been in trouble with NASCAR twice before. Last season at Las Vegas, he received a two race suspension and fined $35,000 when the height of the No. 48 car's roof was found to be too low after the DaimlerChrysler 400. Johnson was also penalized 25 driver points and owner Rick Hendrick 25 owner points because of the infraciton.

The Hendrick organization appealed the suspension which was overruled, but the fine and points reductions were not.

The No. 48's height also was in question after last September's race in Dover. The result was NASCAR passing a rule to outlaw the shock configuration used on the car.

The Daytona 500 qualifying time of the No. 96 Chevrolet driven by Terry Labonte was also disallowed. NASCAR officials said an unapproved carburetor was found on the 96 car. Labonte will also have to start from the rear of the field in Thursday’s qualifying races.

More penalties will be announced after Daytona.

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