Following Richmond, Clint Bowyer and team were warned for getting close to breaking the rules.
At New Hampshire, Bowyer’s team again pushed the boundaries, though this time went to far.
NASCAR announced today that Bowyer would be fined 150 driver points as the “car body location specifications in reference to the certified chassis did not match NASCAR-approved specs.” Also, car owner Richard Childress was fined 150 owner’s points, crew chief Shane Wilson was fined $150,000, and both Wilson and car chief Chad Hanley were suspended for six weeks.
Childress said in a statement that they would appeal and the failure of tech was a result of contact made to the rear bumper of the car post-race by the tow-truck.
“First of all, I’d like to apologize to our sponsors, our fans and everyone at RCR for the situation that has resulted from this ruling,” Childress said. “RCR has a long-standing reputation of integrity on and off the race track. We pride ourselves on working within the rules established by the sanctioning body.
“NASCAR informed us after the Richmond race that we were very close to their maximum tolerances. They also told us they were going to take our New Hampshire car to the NASCAR Technical Center after that race. It does not make any sense at all that we would send a car to New Hampshire that wasn’t within NASCAR’s tolerances. I am confident we fixed the area of concern and the New Hampshire car left the race shop well within the tolerances required by NASCAR.
“We feel certain that the cause of the car being out of tolerance by sixty thousandths of an inch, less than 1/16 of an inch, happened as a result of the wrecker hitting the rear bumper when it pushed the car into winner’s circle. The rear bumper was also hit on the cool down lap by other drivers congratulating Clint on his victory. That’s the only logical way that the left-rear of the car was found to be high at the tech center. We will appeal NASCAR’s ruling and take it all the way to the NASCAR commissioner for a final ruling, if need be.”
Robin Pemberton specified during the teleconference earlier today that the infraction could not be caused via an in-race incident, referencing contact with other cars. He added the car was built in this way to purposely bend the rules.
Pemberton added in the conference, though, that the warning delivered after Richmond played no part in the penalty.
“Two years ago, we had a penalty that was this big with the Red Bull team that dealt with the body, so this follows suit.” Pemberton said.
When accessing the penalty, NASCAR took no consideration in removing Bowyer’s victory.
“We don’t consider taking away the win,” Pemberton said. “We’ll leave the winners as they come off the track. If you ask some, they would consider a 150-point penalty with nine races to go in the Chase a pretty hefty penalty.”
Before the penalty, Bowyer was second, 35 points behind Hamlin. Following the penalty, Bowyer now sits 12th, 185 points behind.
Pemberton said in the conference that NASCAR does recognize all teams push the boundaries, however, it is their job to keep them in line. He also went to add that we may see penalties increase in the future, becoming 200 points per infraction.
Richard Childress’ defence – I’d have to agree with that as we saw no contact of the degree that he’s speaking of following Richmond and they were cutting it close there. I think this is just RCR as a team pushing the boundaries further to try to gain a bigger advantage to therefore win the Chase. As it was stated earlier this week in my ‘Creative Interpretation’ article, teams are always trying to find an advantage without getting caught. Here’s just an example of a team pushing those boundaries too far.
No Relation to Richmond – I’d have to disagree with Pemberton on this as NASCAR does not like when teams begin to find ways around what they’re doing and this is what Childress was out to do. I think this has a lot to do it with as normally had this been a first-stance, you’d see 100 points. Though because of that, you’ve now seen 150 points. As Pemberton clearly stated, it does mean a good size.
Bowyer’s Chase Chances – So how big is this? This is huge. In a field like this where it’s expected that they’ll be some who get no finishes lower than 15th, this is going to hurt Bowyer. Though if everybody has a mulligan as we’ve seen some other years, this would have to be considered Bowyer’s and he’ll have to run clean from here on in. It’ll be interesting to see how he does and how close he becomes as if it’s less than 150 that he’s behind the champ, we’ll all refer to this day.
Not Taking Away The Win – I read over Pemberton’s words in the fact that he said they’d never take away a win. Well, if you’ve got a team that’s out there just for the wins, does not care about the points now or such, then what’s stopping them from cheating and getting that satisfaction they want?