As a big fan of both Clint Bowyer and the Michael Waltrip Racing organization as a whole, you may be under the impression that I’ve been silent the last two days about the Saturday night incident and the subsequent sanctions because of being such a fan.
That’s not the case.
Sadly, it was more a matter of bandwidth — late nights at work and with family.
Saturday night’s actions by MWR and Monday night’s decision by NASCAR have left a lot people feeling that MWR and Clint Bowyer got away with murder and have sullied the honor of the sport.
After a recent three part series on NASCAR Race Hub on cheating and pushing the limits of the rulebook, I’d argue that MWR Executive Vice President of Business Development and General Manager Ty Norris kept tabs on the race and Chase points throughout Richmond’s Saturday night race and pushed the limits of what was allowed.
With Martin Truex Jr. teetering on the edge of Chase contention and the race, Norris made/requested of the No. 15 and 55 drivers some things to maximize getting Truex into the Chase.
Now I know I’m biased as both a Bowyer and MWR fan, but I’d argue, while not right, the thing or things MWR’s teams did are part of a rich tradition of pushing the envelope of the rule book. If Bowyer did in fact spin purposely, which with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s recall from directly behind the #15 was pretty damning. But I really think this was just another case of teams pushing the limits of what’s allowable, and really asking for forgiveness, rather than permission.
And the MWR organization got caught, and had to ask for forgiveness and pay the penalties.
Monday night’s penalty was pretty tough: MWR was fined $300,000. Norris received an indefinite suspension. The three MWR teams were docked 50 points a piece and all three crew chiefs are suspended through the end of 2013. The point knock took Trued out of the Chase, and brought Ryan Newman in. I’m relieved that Ryan Newman didn’t get end up getting screwed.
The penalties seem in line to me, but my big thing is NASCAR has not done anything to keep the same thing from happening again — either from MWR or another organization or team. If NASCAR truly wants to cut this off at the knees, they need to do something to fix things going forward. As it is, it ends up as another, “have at it boys” situation.
Like I said, I’m biased, but I’m ready for the Chase to begin, and everything else to be in the past. I’d be elated if Bowyer won the chase after coming in second a few years back. I’d also be happy if Newman or either of the Busch brothers won. I think all those guys drove the wheels off their cars and don’t get the recognition first and second seeds Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson.