On opening day of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season, February 17, NASCAR found illegal parts on Jimmie Johnson's car. The illegal parts, the C-posts, were in violation of Sections 12-1, 12-4J, and 20-2.1E. In English, that means that the part was not in conformity with NASCAR's rules, and it was considered an unapproved car body modification.
NASCAR didn't let this slide and docked Jimmie Johnson twenty-five driver's points (leaving him in last place in the points), car owner, Jeff Gordon, was docked twenty-five owner points, Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 48, has been suspended for the next six races and fined $100,000, and finally, Ron Malec, car chief, has also been suspended for the next six races. Knaus and Malec will also be put on NASCAR probation until May 9, 2012.
It seems that NASCAR won't hesitate to give out penalties this year - was this penalty strict because NASCAR wanted to set an example for any teams that were thinking of cheating this year? Chances are, we'll never know, so we can only wonder.