Johnson's team has been one of the front-runners in pushing things to the limit; they wouldn't have won five straight titles without having an edge on the rest of the field.
That aggressive approach has occasionally gotten the team in trouble — all those suspensions for Knaus — and, along with all the winning, garnered extra attention for them.
"As successful as we've been over the course of the years, obviously it goes through a little bit more scrutiny — it's inspected more," Knaus said. "It goes to the (inspection center) more because we win more races and more top fives, You get somewhat numb to it."
Still, no matter how many times they've been through it, opening what they hoped would be a bounce-back season with such a debacle will be tough to overcome.
But there's still plenty of time to make up ground, with more than two dozen races left before the Chase begins Sept. 16 in Chicago. It starts this weekend at Phoenix, where Johnson has won four times in 17 starts and could use a good run to start chipping away at his deficit.
"There's no space to worry about it," Johnson said. "I have to focus on my job here at the track and give my team 100 percent focus on this race track here in Phoenix. It ends up taking care of itself once we get going."
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