The hammer has been dropped by NASCAR, and it has created a ripple effect that is earth-shattering.
A press release reported Monday night revealed the sport’s response to Clint Bowyer’s intentional spin Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. The spin was meant to bring out a caution and aid teammate Martin Truex Jr.’s efforts to get into The Chase. The third Michael Waltrip Racing car, Brian Vickers, and spotter Ty Norris shared a radio transmission where Vickers was asked to come down pit road because Truex “[needed] that one point.”
Here are the penalties issues to MWR and its drivers:
-Bowyer, Truex, and Vickers are docked 50 points from the driver and owner standings pre-Chase reset. This means that Truex falls to seventeenth in the points, handing the second Wild Card over to Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Newman. Bowyer keeps his spot in the playoffs and still sits eighth, fifteen points behind first.
-Newman replaces Truex in The Chase.
-The organization of MWR is fined $300,000.
-Norris, who also acts as Executive Vice President/General Manager for the race team, is indefinitely suspended.
-The crew chiefs of the three drivers -Brian Pattie, Chad Johnston, and Scott Miller- are on probation until December 31st.
NASCAR President Mike Helton and NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton met with the media after the penalties were revealed. In the conference, the two spoke about preserving the integrity of the sport, and they both agreed the punishments did just that.
MWR released a statement, yet it only spoke of the Vickers/Norris radio transmission. The choice to force the No. 55 to pit was “a split-second decision” made by Norris to help Truex’s Chase hopes.
Owner Michael Waltrip tweeted about the drama, saying, “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.”
My take on all these happenings? I give kudos to NASCAR for reacting like they did and doing it in a somewhat quick fashion. The Monday night press conference, and the fact that they decided this announcement couldn’t wait until tomorrow afternoon, spoke volumes. Their intent was to protect the integrity of the sport, and I believe that has been done. They were in the public eye -CNN, FOX News, and ESPN were making the spin a top story all day- and backed into a corner. If they didn’t do anything, the sport would’ve gained a large black eye. Action was necessary.
Many fans are upset with the fact that Bowyer’s Chase situation doesn’t change. I would’ve liked to see the 50-point penalty established after the standings we reset for The Chase. However, the real penalty is that he has to live with this forever. This is what he will be known for throughout the rest of his career. That’s the everlasting impression of a single spin.
In the end, what’s done is done, and NASCAR’s ruling is one of the most historic punishments since the sport’s conception. It will take a while to see what else comes from this rippling movement.