(WOMR file photo)
NASCAR officials announced Monday night that they believe that Clint Bowyer altered the outcome of Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race in Richmond, and the composition of the Chase playoff field by intentionally spinning his car.
As a result, Ryan Newman, who was leading the race before the spin, will be awarded a Chase berth and Bowyer’s Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, Ryan Truex Jr., will lose his berth.
Newman and his team owner, Tony Stewart, reacted by praising NASCAR.
“Obviously, we’re very pleased with NASCAR’s decision to provide Ryan Newman’s rightful place in this year’s Chase,” Stewart said. “NASCAR was put in a very difficult position Saturday night at Richmond, and we commend the sanctioning body for taking the time to do the necessary due diligence to ensure that the right call was made.”
Newman said, “I am proud that NASCAR took a stand with respect to what went on Saturday night at Richmond. I know it was a tough decision to make. With that being said, myself, Matt Borland (crew chief) and this entire #39 team are looking forward to competing for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.”
Michael Waltrip Stands By His People
Michael Waltrip tweeted, “This wasn’t a master plan or about a spin. It’s about a split-second decision made by Ty to try to help a teammate. I stand by my people.”
MWR also distributed the following statement: “What occurred on the #55 radio at the end of Saturday night’s race in Richmond was a split-second decision made by team spotter Ty Norris to bring the #55 to pit lane, and help a teammate earn a place in the Chase. We regret the decision and its impact. We apologize to NASCAR, our fellow competitors, partners, and fans who were disappointed in our actions. We will learn from this and move on. As general manager, Ty Norris has been an integral part of Michael Waltrip Racing since its founding and has my and (co-owner) Rob Kauffman’s full support.”
Not affected by Monday night’s ruling is Jeff Gordon, who, had Newman won the race, would have been in the Chase.
NASCAR president Mike Helton told reporters in North Carolina that Gordon could not be factored into the decision because officials could not measure “ripple effects” of the spin.
Gordon tweeted, “Take me out of this completely. At this point all that matters to me is if @NASCAR decides to fix this then fix it completely!”
The full statement released by NASCAR explaining its actions Monday night follows:
“NASCAR has issued penalties to Michael Waltrip Racing following the sanctioning body’s review of Saturday’s race at Richmond International Raceway.
“MWR was found to have violated Section 12-4 (Actions detrimental to stock car racing). As a result, MWR’s three teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (15, 55, 56) have been penalized with the loss of 50 championship driver and 50 championship owner points, respectively.
“These point penalties are assessed following the season’s 26th regular season race, and not after the seeding for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Therefore, the point total for the #56 car driven by Martin Truex Jr. is reduced to 691, putting him in 17th position, and eliminating him from the second Wild Card berth for the Chase field. Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 car, now moves up into the Chase as the second Wild Card participant.
“NASCAR has also fined the MWR organization $300,000 and indefinitely suspended Ty Norris, MWR Executive Vice President/General Manager and spotter for the No. 55 car, for violating Section 12-4. The three crew chiefs – Brian Pattie (#15), Scott Miller (#55) and Chad Johnston (#56) – have all been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.”
Bowyer’s spin came with seven laps to go in the Federated Auto Parts 400. Newman has a seemingly comfortable lead at the time and were he able to complete the final six laps, he would have won the Wild Card berth.
Bowyer’s spin sent the leaders to the pits. When they came out, Newman had lost the lead. By not winning, Truex moved past him in the Wild Card standings, and was awarded the berth.
NASCAR said on Monday it would review the entire sequence of events – including audio from radio traffic on the MWR team, and in-car video from Bowyer’s car – and consider action.
“Based upon our review of Saturday night’s race at Richmond, it is our determination that the MWR organization attempted to manipulate the outcome of the race,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “As the sport’s sanctioning body, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a fair and level playing field for all of our competitors and this action today reflects our commitment to that.”
It would appear that this investigation is still not over. For the integrity of the sport, the sanctioning body must make sure that this kind of “fixing” will never happen again! Additionally, the investigation must be transparent and make sure that all loose ends are tied up and all parties are sanctioned, so that this kind of “fixing” will never happen again!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!