Monday, September 9, 2013

Get Out of Jail Free Card for Bowyer

The spin that wasn't
So did Clint Bowyer do anything wrong Saturday night in the Richmond 400 for “allegedly” putting his car into a slide and causing a caution flag that changed not only the race’s final standings, but the list of drivers qualifying for the all-important Chase.

Apparently not.  At least not officially.

NASCAR spanked Bowyer’s team, Michael Waltrip Racing, with a wide range of penalties after reviewing the Richmond finish, citing MWR under the catchall “Actions detrimental to stock car racing,” clause.  Each of the team’s three cars (Nos. 15, 55 and 56) were docked 50 championship driver points and 50 championship owner points and all three crew chiefs were placed on probation until the end of the year.  MWR also was fined $300,000, the largest in NASCAR history and General Manager Ty Norris was suspended indefinitely.  Norris apologized via Twitter for his part and MWR said it had no plans to appeal the penalties.  Waltrip said he stood by Norris.

NASCAR assessed the penalties “following the season’s 26th regular season race and not after the seeding for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.”  As a result Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the MWR’s No. 56, who benefitted from Bowyer’s slide to sneak into the Chase, was knocked out.  Ryan Newman, who was leading at Richmond when Bowyer spun and eventually finished third, missing the Chase, was back in.  Joey Logano, who also benefitted from the late race caution, is still in the Chase and Jeff Gordon, who suffered, is still out.  NASCAR said it couldn't take into account the "ripple effect."

As result of that timing, Bowyer gets off pretty much scot-free.  He’ll have the same number of points starting off the Chase as he would have before things started happening Saturday night.

NASCAR was in a tough position.  With Bowyer continuing to claim he lost control of the car, the sanctioning body was faced with a choice of calling one of its tops drivers a liar and opening itself up to possible legal action, or penalizing the team in general.  It picked the team. 

“I'll have to leave it to you to decide if it's surprising or not, but our reaction was specifically geared toward reacting to Michael Waltrip Racing collectively,” said NASCAR President Mile Helton when asked why Bowyer hadn’t been singled out.  “Cars spin out.  We have cautions.  There's a lot of things that happen on the racetrack that people speculate about why it happened or how it happened.  Sometimes there's conclusive evidence.  More often than not, though, you don't know exactly what happened.  But the collection of all the information we collected from Saturday night led us to the team-wide reaction as opposed to an individual car.

“There's not conclusive evidence that the 15 spin was intentional.  There's a lot of chatter, there's the video that shows a car spinning, but we didn't see anything conclusive that that was intentional.

"The preponderance of things that happened by Michael Waltrip Racing Saturday night, the most clear was the direction that the 55 driver was given and the confusion around it, and then the conversation following that occurrence is the most clear part of that preponderance."

I’ve always liked Bowyer.  Who doesn’t (except possibly, Jeff Gordon).  Or rather, who didn’t.

"No rearview mirrors in life, just windshield ahead," said Bowyer via Twitter after the NASCAR announcement.  "It's been a great year and is going to be a great chase. Time to move on!!!"

Get ready for the boos Clint.  I also suspect he’s lost a great deal of respect in the garage area.  The whole MWR team has.  Newman indicated as much on a call about his ride with Richard Childress Racing next season before NASCAR's announcement.

"I'd say the potential is not good for us to be cordial to each other,"  Newman said of MWR.  "In the end, I was extremely disappointed to see and hear some of the things that went down."

That may be the harshest penalty of all.


  1. The actions of Michael Waltrip, his crew chiefs and certainly his drivers have taken NASCAR into an area they have never dealt with before. This isn't "cheating" it is "criminal". $300,000 is the largest NASCAR fine ever, but it still allows MWR to participate in the playoff and to qualify for any bonus money and sponsor money they may qualify for at the end of the season. That cannot be allowed. Bowyer cannot be allowed to compete in the playoff. Knowing that he certainly didn't come up with the idea from listening to the communications, he probably should be banned from NASCAR for the rest of the season and on probation for at least the next season. His crew chief and owner should be banned from NASCAR forever, period. What they did cannot be "fined" away. Michael was in the pit with a headset on and I'll bet film footage will show him and the crew chief chatting during the cooking up of this whole "crime". He has to be banned.

  2. Gordon should be in the Chase and Bowyer out. In order for the ruse to work, the #24 had to be pushed out. That's the other part of the story they forgot.

  3. Michael Waltrip Racing cheated in their very first race with some type of fuel additive stuffed in the intake manifold... and still Michael Waltrip is the spokesman for Aarons and the expert commentator for the truck races. Haven't watched truck races for two years now ....


  4. Don't forget the missing Roush track bar that mysteriously showed up at MWR. Fox should terminate their contract with him.

  5. nascar should add Gordon to the chase,suspend bowyer and car from Chicago and ban waltrip from all nascar events for 1year

  6. Looks as though NASCAR didn't take enough points away from Boyer to make any difference, then stupidly gave them right back. Can you imagine getting fined for speeding then having the court rebate your money after you get home? This could be one of the dumbest sports fines ever!

  7. Michael, most likely drinking, ends up in a ditch and leaves the accident scene . When the police try to question him , he hides in the cabana building at his pool, claims he did not hear them looking for him. The Daytona intake manifold "substance". The Roush "sway bar" that he just found lying there and figured he should put it in "his" hauler. Mikey has had some questionable things in his past and you know he was part of the brain trust that made the decisions on Saturday Nite. MWR should be shut down for the rest of 2013. However NASCAR may see itself,changing outcomes.

  8. Never heard about the sway bar thing, when was this? Not a fan of either of the Waltrips, hate the embarressing boogity-boogity line to start a race, baby talk... I'm a Gordon fan and not happy with the caution flag deal but I understand why they couldn't put him in. It would put 4 Hendrick cars in and remove Penske's only player in the chase, I think that had something to do with it and the perception for treating Gordon differently than other drivers, something that came up after Phoenix last season. If they could have penalize the #15 25 pts in the chase, that would have at least created a hole for them to start in....

  9. It is obvious that MWR has been under the protective banner of NASCAR itself. Billionare France brings in his Billionare Buddy (Kauffman) to help fund this team, while France supplies all of the Official Sponsors of Nascar and of course all of the infractions are forgiven or obscured. Had any other team been as dirty and cheap they would have long been banned from the sport.

    What else has France done, by virtue of his powerful position, to set up the Waltrips? Look around its is obvious! The question is WHY?

  10. The swaybar incident happened in 2008. Mikey "Mouth" Waltrip made light of the whole thing as did the media. According to Mikey, the bar just somehow happened to find it's way into an MWR toolbox. In fact, Roush had spent quite a bit of money on metallurgy trying to build a legal swaybar which would be lighter but still have the same effect as a larger bar. Here's a link to just one related story.