CONCORD, N.C. – Ryan Newman replaced Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship on Monday night when NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing for manipulating the outcome of last weekend’s race at Richmond.
Michael Waltrip Racing was fined $300,000, and general manager Ty Norris received an indefinite suspension.
Truex, Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers were docked 50 points apiece – but Bowyer’s deduction does not affect his position in the Chase, which begins Sunday at Chicago.
We penalize to not have this happen again, NASCAR President Mike Helton said. It’s a message from the league saying You can’t do this.’
Newman was leading with seven laps remaining Saturday night at Richmond, where a victory would have given him the final spot in the 12-driver Chase field. But Bowyer spun to bring out a caution, setting in motion a chain of events that ultimately led to Newman losing the race and Bowyer teammate Truex earning the final Chase berth.
While examining the situation, NASCAR reviewed communication between Bowyer and his Michael Waltrip Racing crew that seemed to indicate the spin was deliberate, as well as additional evidence that suggested MWR had Bowyer and Vickers take a dive over the final three laps so Joey Logano would knock Jeff Gordon out of Chase contention in yet another attempt to help Truex.
NASCAR did not adjust the standings to put Gordon into the Chase – he was in before Bowyer’s spin – because Helton said it was impossible to address all the scenarios.
We know from experience, if you try to look at ripple effect, you can’t cover all bases that’s equitable and credible across board, said Helton, who also said NASCAR was unable to prove Bowyer spun intentionally. There’s a lot of chatter, but we didn’t see any conclusive evidence.
Gordon’s reaction Monday night focused on Truex, who did nothing to land in his teammates’ mess, and Bowyer, who escaped unscathed.
Feel bad for Truex. He got in under controversy now out due to it. But the guy who started all of this not effected at all??? Don’t agree! Gordon posted on Twitter.
Bowyer denied Saturday night he intentionally spun and Truex was an unwitting participant. There was silence from MWR officials until Waltrip tweeted after NASCAR’s announcement.
This wasn’t a master plan or about a spin. It’s about a split-second decision made by Ty to try to help a teammate. I stand by my people, he posted on Twitter.
The controversy surrounding Saturday’s race put a damper on Newman’s Monday announcement that he had reached a deal with Richard Childress Racing to replace Jeff Burton next season in the No. 31 Chevrolet.
Now Newman gets the chance to compete for the title in his final races with Stewart-Haas Racing. He won the Brickyard this year and has 17 career victories overall.