Johnson says team has not planned for suspensions

JENNA FRYER AP Auto Racing Writer Published:

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) -- Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson says his team has not yet prepared for the possibility his crew chief and car chief will be suspended.

Chad Knaus goes before NASCAR's chief appellate officer on Tuesday trying to get his six-race suspension overturned. Car chief Ron Malec was also suspended six races because NASCAR found illegal modifications to the No. 48 Chevrolet in the opening inspection for the Daytona 500.

A three-member appeals panel upheld the penalties this week. The hearing before John Middlebrook next week is the final step in the appeals process.

Johnson says the suspensions would be a "huge blow" to his team, but he remains optimistic Middlebrook will overturn the penalties.

Hendrick Motorsports has not said how the absences will be filled within the No. 48 team.