The appeal lodged by Richard Childress Racing to the NASCAR Commissioner has been heard and the decision rendered. John Middlebrook, NASCAR’s Chief Appellate Officer, upheld NASCAR’s penalty of the RCR No. 33 team, with some slight modifications.
The fine for the crew chief of the No. 33 team, Shane Wilson, has been reduced from $150,000 to $100,000. Middlebrook also reduced the race suspensions of Wilson and Chad Haney, the team’s car chief, from six to four weeks, with their suspensions ending on November 3rd but probation continuing until December 31st.
One of the most important penalties, the championship owner and driver points, however, remained unchanged. Driver Clint Bowyer and team continue to have lost the 150 points, keeping them in the cellar of the Chase point standings and virtually out of championship contention.
“After reviewing all the data, presentation and factors involved, I am ruling NASCAR was correct in its decision to levy penalties,” Middlebrook said. “I believe that the revisions that have been made to the penalties are consistent and fair to both parties involved.”
This was Middlebrook’s first appeal since becoming the Chief Appellate Officer for NASCAR at the start of this race season. Middlebrook, a retired General Motors executive, replaced Charles Strang, who had been in the Commissioner role for many years.
This is the final step in the appeal process for Richard Childress and his team and the decision is binding. Childress felt strongly, however, that he had to take that final step after being denied by the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel last week.
“We proved beyond a reasonable doubt how the car was found to be out of tolerance after the race,” Childress said in a statement after the Appeals Panel had ruled, continuing his contention that the tow truck that pushed the No. 33 race car to Victory Lane was the culprit. “I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision knowing how the appeal system is structured.”
Childress’ driver Clint Bowyer also did not hold out much hope for the appeal to overturn the ruling.
“I’ve told Richard it’s not worth fighting,” Bowyer said. “In my opinion, their minds are made up.”
“The championship hopes are done for myself,” Bowyer continued. “The thing that I have to do now is be the best teammate I can be. We have to bring a championship home. We still have two shots at that.”
There is no doubt that the focus will now turn to Bowyer’s teammates, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton. Harvick, who led the point standings at the end of the regular season, is currently in the 3rd position in the Chase standings, while Jeff Burton remains less in the hunt in the 9th spot.