It doesn't matter if we think Clint Bowyer spun on purpose, NASCAR does and they dropped the hammer
Twitter was a-buzz after Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway, and so was NASCAR Radio on SiriusXM, Facebook, NASCAR.com and every other site following NASCAR. Clint Bowyer spun with 7 laps left in the race, bringing out the caution. Brian Vickers pitted. Ryan Newman had been leading before the spin, but Carl Edwards was the winner when the checkers flew. The Chase member were announced, and Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer's teammate, was in by the skin of his teeth.
Today he is out, and Ryan Newman is in.
Pretty good news for Ryan, coming right on top of Richard Childress Racing's announcement earlier today that Ryan will join RCR in 2014, driving the 31 car being vacated by Jeff Burton.
Not only did NASCAR find that the spin by Clint Bowyer was intentional, a "team order" if you will, they had a problem with Brian Vickers' late pit stop. Mike Heltong advised that technicians and NASCAR big wigs had spent many hours today reviewing video, audio, and still shots. In the end, they had enought evidence to judge that MWR "manipulated" the outcome of the race to aid the 56 of Truex Jr. in achieving a better finish. They fined MWR $300,000, the largest fine in NASCAR history. They docked each one of the drivers 50 points, and suspended General Manager, Ty Norris, indefinitely.
Brian Vickers was told by Norris to pit under the green because "We need that one point". Vickers was surprised and asked if he had a tire going down or something. After the pit stop, he asked if the team had found anything with his tire, to which Norris replied "I'll see you after the race Brian. I owe you a kiss".
For NASCAR, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Bowyer denies his spin was intentional, even though video from Dale Earnhardt Jr's car is somewhat damning.
Although Jeff Gordon was not given any benefit by the ruling - he was actually in the Chase until Bowyer's spin - he was vocal about his opinion, at least on Twitter. He felt bad for Truex, who received the worst punishment if you will, yet was blameless in the manuvers of Ty Norris
Michael Waltrip stands by his team, of course, but the result is only one of his teams is in the Chase. Fifty points did not affect Clint Bowyer's place in the Chase, but it was enough to knock Martin Truex out and Ryan Newman in.
Although I have been rather vocal with my opinion of NASCAR and how they have gotten so much wrong in the past, this time I believe they got it mostly right. What about you?