NASCAR has penalised Michael Waltrip Racing after Clint Bowyer‘s controversial incident in the dying laps at Richmond International Raceway.
Not only did Bowyer spin late in the race, but Brian Vickers suprisingly came down pit road with only three laps remaining. Both actions allowed Martin Truex Jr. to make the Chase through a wild-card position at the expense of Ryan Newman, who recently announced he would be driving for Richard Childress Racing from 2014.
NASCAR has docked all three MWR drivers 50 points, dropping Bowyer down to eighth in the standings from third – still in the Chase – while Truex drops from 12th to 17th. Vickers’ spotter, Ty Norris, was suspended indefinitely and the team were handed a hefty $300,000 fine. All three crew chiefs have been placed under probation.
The result means that Newman now sits ahead of Truex in points, with the two both holding one race win, handing the final wild-card entry to Newman.
There has been some talk that the penalty was not harsh enough, particularly on Bowyer, the man at the centre of the controvery. Some believe that Bowyer should have been thrown out of the Chase for his actions, however, NASCAR stated that there was not conclusive evidence that Bowyer spun on purpose. As such, Bowyer’s penalty has now effectively been wiped out as the Chase points get reset and he still has a strong chance at winning the championship.
There was enough evidence, however, to show that MWR had attempted to manipulate the result, hence NASCAR’s harsh penalties to the team.
“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.”