When NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick exercises a final appeal at overturning a severe penalty to Jimmie Johnson, a familiar face will hear the plea.

After a three-member appeals panel unanimously upheld the punishment for failing a pre-Daytona 500 inspection to the five-time Sprint Cup champion’s team — the loss of 25 points for Johnson and the team and a six-race suspension and $100,000 fine to crew chief Chad Knaus — Hendrick said he would take the case to National Stock Car Racing chief appellate officer John Middlebrook, the final authority in NASCAR’s judicial system.

Middlebrook is a former General Motors executive who spent nearly a half-century working for the automotive giant. Hendrick, who owns the country’s second-largest privately held auto dealership group and exclusively has fielded Chevrolets in NASCAR’s premier series, has known Middlebrook for more than 20 years. Hendrick was one of six people who honored Middlebrook at a 2008 retirement ceremony.