Phil Allaway · Monday September 9, 2013
On Saturday night, Clint Bowyer spun out on his own with eight laps to go in the Federated Auto Parts 400. The spin resulted in a caution that ultimately affected the outcome of the race. In addition, Bowyer and teammate Brian Vickers were forced to pit after the green-flag came back out in order to ensure that Joey Logano would get into the Chase for the Sprint Cup on points and MWR driver Martin Truex, Jr. would earn the final Wild Card.
The gamesmanship was clear cut. Fan outrage was palpable. Michael Waltrip Racing’s Facebook page was besieged by angry fans. NASCAR released a statement Sunday night that simply said that they were investigating the circumstances.
On Monday night, NASCAR concluded their investigation and brought down the hammer on Michael Waltrip Racing for their tactics.
In a press release, NASCAR stated that Michael Waltrip Racing violated Section 12-4 of the Sprint Cup Series Rule Book, which refers to “Actions Detrimental to Stock Car Racing.” The penalties are nearly unprecedented.
All three of MWR’s teams have been docked 50 owners points each. Bowyer and Truex have also been docked 50 championship driver points. Brian Vickers did not lose any driver points since he is not eligible to earn driver points in the Sprint Cup Series.
All of the point penalties were taken pre-points reset. As a result, Bowyer will start the Chase 15 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. Truex’s penalty drops him from a tie for 12th with Ryan Newman to 17th. Truex has thus been removed from the Chase. Newman, who finished third on Saturday night, will claim the second Wild Card. The No. 55 team drops from 19th to 22nd in owners’ points as a result of penalty.
In addition, Ty Norris, Michael Waltrip Racing’s Executive Vice President and General Manager (in addition to being the spotter for the No. 55) has been suspended indefinitely for his role in the collusion. Michael Waltrip Racing as a whole has been fined $300,000, and all three crew chiefs (Brian Pattie for Bowyer, Scott Miller for Vickers, and Chad Johnston for Truex) have been placed on probation through December 31st.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition, issued a statement in the press release about their findings: “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,” Pemberton said. “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.”
Team co-owner Michael Waltrip came to the defense of his team after the announcement in a statement:
“What occurred on the No. 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 No. 55 to pit lane and help a teammate earn a place in the Chase,” Waltrip wrote. “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.”
Michael Waltrip Racing has accepted NASCAR’s penalties and will not appeal the ruling.
UPDATE 10:56pm: Michael Waltrip Racing’s Ty Norris took to Twitter earlier tonight to apologize for his role in the collusion.
“In the final laps, I made a call to pit the [No.] 55 to benefit a teammate,” Norris tweeted. “It was a split second decision made in the middle of a chaotic finish [that was] bad on [our] circumstances. There was no time to think, just act. Though it was to benefit MWR, it is now clear [that] it was to the detriment of the sport I love and have called home for the past 24 years. I apologize to all who were affected by that decision in the greatest race for the Chase in its ten year history. I have dedicated my life to this industry and value its integrity and understand the decision.”
Note: Norris’ statement, which was posted as a series of five tweets on Twitter, has been edited for clarity purposes only.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!