The Frontstretch: Racing To The Point: Bowyer’s Real Penalty Might Be Coming by Brett Poirier -- Tuesday September 24, 2013

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Racing To The Point: Bowyer’s Real Penalty Might Be Coming

Brett Poirier · Tuesday September 24, 2013


Martin Truex Jr.’s life was turned upside down by Clint Bowyer’s intentional spin at Richmond. Truex was booted from the Chase and learned a short time later that his 36-race primary sponsor was leaving the organization, prompting owner Michael Waltrip to tell his longest-tenured driver that he had permission to look around the garage.

You thought 50 points was the only penalty Clint Bowyer would suffer? Think again.

Now, the one Michael Waltrip Racing driver who didn’t attempt to manipulate the outcome of the last regular season race is watching his world crash down around him. A month ago, he was on the verge of his second straight playoff appearance, he had one of the most reliable sponsors in the garage backing him and was racing for one of the sport’s up-and-coming teams. Fast forward and Truex is a part of silly season rumors and has no idea what his future holds.

Meanwhile, Bowyer’s lone penalty — a 50-point deduction — before the playoff points were set was about as pointless as Kasey Kahne’s ESPN interview on Sunday. Can you hear me Kasey?

For everyone that thought Bowyer got away scot-free with fixing Richmond, not so fast. Bowyer’s penalty might still be coming. Mmmmmhahahahah! That was my evil laugh for effect.

Bowyer’s primary sponsor 5-Hour Energy has been non-committal about sticking with MWR, and it sure didn’t seem like a trip to Loudon last weekend convinced company president Scott Henderson to stay. Henderson was quoted as saying something you say to your girlfriend who thinks you’re ready for marriage.

“We’ll see how this year plays out.” Henderson added one more quote before walking off saying, “There’s a lot of talk about integrity,” he said. “When the guy who’s in charge can say, ‘I can do whatever I want and I’m going to do it and I just did,’ I wonder about integrity. I want to make sure we can win in this sport, OK?”

Henderson seemed to be referring to NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and his decision to add a 13th driver, Jeff Gordon, to the Chase field. 5-Hour Energy’s reluctance to stay in the sport stems from the actions NASCAR took to clean up the mess the 5-Hour Energy car started. Now it may cost Bowyer a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal at the end of the season.

If that isn’t ironic, I don’t know what is.

MWR, the organization that surprised just about everyone last year by qualifying two cars for the Chase and placing runner-up in the championship, is reeling. Only one of its three primary sponsors for next season has committed to the team. The organization was just levied a $300,000 fine and its one driver in the Chase, Bowyer, has already been knocked out of contention. He’s unlikely to win a race this season — he’ll have a shot at Martinsville and Talladega — and he’s gone from being one of the most marketable personalities in the garage to maybe the most unmarketable with one sharp left-hand turn of the steering wheel.

Bowyer didn’t lose most of his credibility in The Spin, but rather in the week following when he insisted the spin was accidental — even though a blind man could see that it wasn’t — and continued lying through his teeth to anyone with a camera. At the same time, he told the media that he called Ryan Newman to apologize and was “sick to his stomach” about the ending of the Richmond race. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard a driver get sick over a flat tire he had no control over.

MWR didn’t handle the situation any better. The organization came off less apologetic, and more “I’m sorry we got caught.” Michael Waltrip didn’t issue an apology until NAPA decided it no longer wanted to be associated with cheaters. Instead of being proactive about the situation, Waltrip was the kid who hid next to the couch in plain sight during hide-and-seek, and said, “Maybe they won’t see me.”

If MWR does have to fill two primary sponsorship holes for next season, they are in serious trouble. What company president in his right mind is going to dish millions to an organization with the credibility of Stephen Glass in the middle of its downfall? For those of you who thought the MWR penalties weren’t severe enough have no worries because the repercussions are still being felt and might crumble what Waltrip and Robert Kauffman worked so hard to build.

Brian Vickers couldn’t wait for another chance full-time with a competitive organization, but by the time he starts the 2014 season, he might be the only one left the way things are going.

Truex is in the eye of the storm Bowyer created, with help from MWR general manager Ty Norris, of course. Norris was suspended indefinitely, but don’t worry, Bowyer is going get his. He’s had to deal with the guilt of ripping Truex from the Chase and he just watched his teammate lose his sponsor, and possibly his ride for next year. Now, he knows the same could happen to him. Henderson said his decision wouldn’t come until after the season, which means Bowyer will be on edge until then. Even if 5-Hour Energy does return, it’s going to be a rough eight weeks for Bowyer.

Second in points last season and might not have a sponsor or the same ride heading into next season.

That would be one hell of a spin.

Contact Brett Poirier

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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09/24/2013 07:43 AM

Brian France pulled Truex out…and put Gordon/Hendrick in.

Truex got screwed from all sides. But the decisions from the Nascar leadership are what stand out the most. What a crock.

Regarding “The Spin”. Are you F’n kidding me? There’s nothing new under the sun here. Any dufus who’s been around Nascar has seen plenty of manipulation and team orders and drivers helping other drivers.

Nascar talking “integrity”? What a F’n slap in the face. And by a debris caution flag to boot.

09/24/2013 08:49 AM

Does anyone remember Geoff Bodine’s spin in the 1990 Daytona 500?
It’s like a parent telling their child “There’s nothing you can do that hasn’t been tried before.”
If you don’t learn from the past you will repeat it.

Michael in SoCal
09/24/2013 10:57 AM

Nascar had no choice but to pull Truex due to the complicit activities of his teammates (and no overt action by Truex). Bowyer’s punishment should have been the 50 point penalty after seeding. Or like Dave Despain said – 450 points so that he could win every Chase race and still not win the championship.

Truex got screwed, no doubt about that. Guilty by association.

09/24/2013 11:25 AM

Nascar always has a choice…it’s their sandbox. And they screwed it up in a MAJOR way.

09/24/2013 01:18 PM

Agree with Michael. Bad move allowing Bowyer to continue, Truex got caught in the “ripple effect” that his own organization orchestrated.

Waltrip and Bowyer continued to protest that it was just an innocent mistake, but no one believed them – can you say jet fuel?

the chase needs to go –

09/24/2013 01:36 PM

Ah Brian France, can’t you see the real “ripple” effect. The lawy of unintended consequences at Agreed JP a thousand times over. This incident brought to light to me how ignorant many fans are to what IS ACCEPTED and what they watch every week and then cry foul. Of course there anger is selective.

09/24/2013 02:13 PM

First comes the multi car teams. Then add the chase to the mix. Put the mix between two slices of bread and you have a nascar s*it sandwich. The chase encourages this kind of “racing”. nas$car has been manipulating races for years. Can anybody say “debris caution” with a straight face? MWR just did it so bad that nas$car had to react. The problem is that Bowyer wasn’t punished at all, while Truex Jr. was. And speaking of farces. I actually watched a nationwide race last week end because there were no cup drivers in the race. Guess what A nationwide driver won!! But I won’t be watching this week end’s “companion” race at Dover because there will be three cup drivers entered. Good grief!!

09/24/2013 03:06 PM

Truex was not removed from the “chase” ..His points penalty (50 pts) was enough to remove him..Nascar handled it poorly but MWR was worse (we already knew about micky’s ways) but bowyer just blew it for a whole week he lied to all his fans & thats got to be the worst of it (do they all think we’re that dum?) & Yes there have been instance’s before some were penalized & some were not..But they wern’t fixing a race to eliminate a driver (& yes this is fixing) No way should bowyer have been in & no way should Gordon(13th) have been added (It Is A Credibility issue) if they want the chase to work you don’t change the format mid swing due to an issue during the game. (see late game missed calls in play offs) If your team got screwed they got screwed & next year..Yes Gordon should have been in but removing bowyer would have done that anyway..Felt sorry for bowyer last year with Gordons move (he should have been suspended) …Ya big miss’s here & looks like no winners…Rave on Brian..P.S Great article (hell of a spin)

09/24/2013 03:41 PM

Its funny, nobody batted an eye last year with Hothead Jeff ramming Clint while he was black flagged and took out other drivers as well during a “Chase” race which both Clint and Jeff(lucky again) were both participants. People have very short memories. The people pontificating seem to like to get mad when it doesn’t suit their driver. People, that is known as being a hypocrite. Nascar made this mess with its integrity problem and inclination towards a certain big dollar team. Yup, it is indeed a big steaming pile.

09/24/2013 03:46 PM

France, Hendrick, Penske.
They control nascar. Gordon with an additional slot
added, due to a conversation between France and Hendrick?
Logano still in due to
Penske power?
This isn’t a circus, it is a carnival.

Carl D.
09/24/2013 04:43 PM

“When the guy who’s in charge can say, ‘I can do whatever I want and I’m going to do it and I just did,’ I wonder about integrity. I want to make sure we can win in this sport, OK?”

Folks, when sponsors start making statements like this, things have gotten really, really bad. Brian France must resign.

09/24/2013 06:23 PM

agree with CarlD.

this fish is rotting from the head.

basscar i mean nascar is a privately held organization and
like it or not, we have NO say. ultimately, brian CAN do whatever he wants.

i don’t really see a fix coming as long as the business part of nascar is as lucrative to the controlling management as it currently is and the comments of 5 hour energy don’t matter to the organization…. yet.

all it does is shows the fans that sponsors are frustrated too but the frances and helton are pretty (finacially) insulated from the immediate effects of those sort of comments i would think.

09/24/2013 07:50 PM

I simply don’t get it. Clint is getting more haters over this deal than Mikey the owner and way more than Ty Norris for passing along the orders. Norris still has his job and major paycheck, Mikey is still playing cover up and basically has been unapologetic. If Clint did it unintentionally then he was doing what his owner and company manager told him to do. I’d like to see Clint take 5 hour and head to FRR.

09/24/2013 07:55 PM

The actions of NAPA and Aaron’s speak volumes about the respective companies. Each has taken a stand about right or wrong actions by the people they do business with. And, IMHO, they came down pretty much as you expect them to.
Now 5 Hour Energy has a choice to make. And it should actually be easier than the one the other two had to make.
As they say, adversity doesn’t build character – it reveals it.

Bill B
09/24/2013 08:15 PM

Clint blew his chance of lessening negative public opinion, he wouldn’t just admit it. Come on guys we all know it was intentional. If there were no chase it would have just been another race but with the chase it was magnified a hundred times since it was so obvious and affected the precious chase.
Clint will continue to get booed until he tells the truth then, over time, it will pass.

09/24/2013 09:48 PM

It should be a 10 man chase this year. Penalize the team that caused the problem. No 56, no 15. Leave out the teams that did not make it based on the actions of MWR. No 24, no 39. 22 and 5 are the wildcards. This way you don’t change the results of the race. Do the 24 and 39 get screwed? Yeah. NASCAR’s correct response? Sorry guys, but your beef is with MWR, not us. Handle it how you see fit.

bud sudz
09/24/2013 10:57 PM

It simply should have been a three-lap penalty to Bowyer for intentionally causing a caution (BTW, that event happens frequently at your local short track, often via stopping on the track to gain the caution to change a flat). Everything else is a result of the fabricated Chase. Did NASCAR review the tape of the other 25 faces to see if their were any other intentional acts?
NAPA and 5-Hour are reacting to Social Media, not right and wrong.

phil h
09/25/2013 01:24 AM

to midasmicah… actually the Nationwide race was won by a driver whom is competing for Truck Series points.

But I catch your drift, it was damn refreshing not to see the Kyle Busch Series for a change !!

09/25/2013 08:24 AM

Speaking of manipulation, has any noticed how the #48 (5-time champ, leader in points) tanked in the last 4 races leading to the Chase? Finishes (starting with Mich)of 40th, 36th, 28th and 40th which allowed all of his team mates to gain positions.

09/25/2013 09:18 AM

Forget the drivers, the story here is greed and cronyism. I used to run marketing for a team sponsor and the entire “sport” is rigged. It is setup with so many layers of bureaucracy thst sponsors are forced to hire designated friends of nascar(sports marketing companies) to help traverse the hordes of people that need payoffs. Once the fair playing field has been compromised the entire racket is exposed and sponsors question the entire investment. The crazy thing is that more money would be invested in stock car racing by more companies if they refocused on fan experience and providing a fair playing field.

09/25/2013 02:53 PM

I agree that Gordon should have been in the chase. But Lagano should have been penalized just like Truex. What Gililand did was not as overt as Vicker, but it was called for by Lagano’s team, and telemetry proves it.