Concord, NC- NASCAR levied the heaviest penalty in the history of the sport on Monday night.
They docked Michael Waltrip Racing’s Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and Martin Truex Jr. 50 points each for their actions at the end of the Federated Auto Parts 400 Saturday night.
In doing so, NASCAR took Truex out of the Chase and put 2013 Brickyard 400 champion Ryan Newman back in.
That is something all NASCAR fans can agree upon.
Newman deserved to be allowed back into the Chase. The issue that many are having is why penalize Truex more than Bowyer when he’s the one who caused the whole fiasco to begin with?
The answer is NASCAR couldn’t prove Bowyer spun on purpose.
“There’s not conclusive evidence that the 15 spin was intentional,” said Mike Helton. “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.”
Basically that’s saying everyone in the world knows he spun on purpose but there’s nothing we can do to prove it. So they just took their actions on the entire MWR team.
Helton said, “The reaction from NASCAR is to Michael Waltrip Racing, and every team in his organization that runs, in this case, the Sprint Cup Series.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.”
So then what caused MWR to get caught?
It was Vickers and the No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota team.
Obviously there’s radio chatter on both Bowyer’s and Vickers’ teams that NASCAR took into consideration but Vickers AND Bowyer took action in pitting multiple times at the end of the race when there was nothing wrong with each of their cars. Radio transmission between Vickers and his 55 crew had him pit to go multiple laps down so Joey Logano would have both Bowyer and Vickers on his lap so the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford could move up two more spots and knock Jeff Gordon back out of the top 10 in the final standings.
“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,” said Helton.
If Vickers never purposely pitted and got on the same lap as Logano, then Gordon who was one point from 10th at the end of the race would have automatically been in bumping Logano out. That meant Logano would get the final wildcard spot and Truex would have been out still.
The call came from MWR general manager Ty Norris as he was the voice on the radio coaching Vickers what to do.
“Let me answer it this way: Ty (Norris) confirmed the conversation that most everybody in this room has heard over the radio with the 55 driver,” said Helton on what was the smoking gun.
Here’s the conversation between Norris and Vickers at the end of the race via radio chatter.
”We’re probably going to pit here on green,” Norris says.
”Are you talking to me?” a surprised Vickers asks.
Vickers continued to question the call, at one point asking, ”I don’t understand, pit right now?”
”You’ve got to pit this time. We need that 1 point,” Norris replies.
”10-4. Do I got a tire going down?” Vickers asked.
Bowyer’s radio transmission with his crew chief Brian Pattie wasn’t as straight to the point but you’d get the picture.
”Thirty-nine is going to win the race,” Bowyer was told over his radio.
”Is your arm starting to hurt?” crew chief Brian Pattie asked. After a pause, Pattie said, ”I bet it’s hot in there. Itch it.”
Bowyer’s car then spun.
Vickers then pitted as the field went green. When he asked after if his crew found anything with the tire, Norris replied, ”I’ll see you after the race, Brian, I owe you a kiss.”
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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