Monday, September 09, 2013

COMMENTARY: NASCAR Must Punish Only The Guilty

Bowyer's spin raises questions
A NASCAR review is currently underway to determine whether Michael Waltrip Racing intentionally manipulated the outcome of Saturday’s night’s race at Richmond International Raceway to favor driver Martin Truex, Jr.

The answers may be more disturbing than the questions.
Bowyer’s 5-Hour Energy Toyota spun with seven laps remaining in Saturday night’s race, necessitating a final restart that dramatically altered the outcome of the event, as well as the 12-driver lineup for the championship Chase. Race leader Ryan Newman emerged from pit road fifth after a disastrous final pit stop, losing what appeared to be a certain win and a berth in the Chase. Jeff Gordon lost a Chase-clinching finish in the final laps, as well, and will not compete for a fifth championship in 2013.
NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton said immediately following the race that the sanctioning body saw no evidence of Bowyer’s spin being intentional. After the fact, an avalanche of circumstantial evidence has surfaced indicating that the crash may have been ordered by MWR officials, in an effort to get teammate Truex into the Chase.
Truex did nothing wrong Saturday
Moments before Bowyer’s pivotal spin, crew chief Brian Pattie was overheard on the team’s in-car radio telling him, “The 39 (Ryan Newman) is going to win the race. Is your arm starting to hurt? I bet it's hot in there. Itch it."
Bowyer has denied any allegation of impropriety, saying, “"I think we had something going wrong. I spun out. I know it's a lot of fun for you (media) guys to write a lot of wacky things, so go ahead if you want to. Get creative. But don't (read) too much into it."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – who was behind Bowyer at the time of the incident – also questioned the circumstances, saying, “That's the craziest thing I ever saw. He was hemming around on the brakes and jerking the car around, and then the thing just spun out. I don't know what was going on.”
In-car audio also indicates that MWR’s third driver, Brian Vickers, was ordered to pit under green in the final laps of the race, despite having no apparent mechanical issues. That pit stop, which inexplicably took two full laps to complete, dropped Vickers back in the running order and allowed Truex to claim the final Wild Card position for the Chase.
After the race, Waltrip told Truex, “You've got awesome teammates."
Truex responded simply, "Yes, I know."
Newman: "We lost it on pit road."
While circumstantial, a preponderance of the evidence seems to indicate intentional manipulation of Saturday night’s results by MWR, a team that stands to gain millions of dollars in purse, prize money and sponsor revenue by placing both Bowyer and Truex in the 2013 Chase. After viewing that evidence, NASCAR could easily conclude that there was something rotten in Denmark… errr…Virginia on Saturday night.
The tougher question is, what do they do about it?
Clearly, the sanctioning body cannot play “revisionist history,” rewinding the tape to a point prior to Bowyer’s spin and pretending it never happened. They cannot take the win away from Carl Edwards and hand it to Newman, any more than they can boot Truex and Logano out of the Chase in favor of Newman and Gordon.
Doing so would completely disregard what happened during Saturday’s decisive final round of pit stops, and in the last laps of the race itself.
“We had an opportunity to win it on pit road, and we didn't,” admitted Newman afterward. “Carl and those guys beat us on four tires. We should have been able to come on pit road first and come off first. If we're a championship contending team, we need a championship contending pit crew, and we didn't have that tonight.
“We lost it on pit road," said Newman. "We did everything we needed to, with the exception of the pit stop."
In an effort to do something about Saturday’s night’s chicanery, NASCAR must be careful to punish only those guilty of wrongdoing.
There is already a rule in place forbidding drivers from intentionally bringing out the caution flag, either by stopping on the race track or throwing debris onto it. If it can be reasonably determined that Bowyer did so, he can (and should) be sanctioned severely by NASCAR, with enough of a points penalty to render him a non-factor in the 2013 championship chase. Michael Waltrip Racing should also lose owner points and a boatload of cash, making it abundantly clear that shady dealing of this type will never – and should never – be tolerated.
Martin Truex, Jr. did nothing wrong Saturday. Nor did Joey Logano. While they may have benefitted from the malfeasance of others, they are guilty of nothing more than driving their respective race cars to the best of their abilities. There’s no crime in that.
In the aftermath of Saturday night’s bamboozlement, NASCAR now has an opportunity to send a clear message regarding “team orders” and their place in the sport. They must be sure, however, to sanction only those guilty of breaking the rules.



  1. 100% spot on Moody

  2. Well said Dave.
    SOMETHING must be done.
    I don't think Nascar will make it a 10 or 11 team chase. They've got too much invested for "12 Chase drivers" from a marketing standpoint.
    I believe you'll see Boyer booted from the chase and Ryan Newman or Jeff Gordon stated as the addition.

  3. Anonymous12:10 PM

    Well said. But you may have to explain 50 more times this afternoon.

  4. Would Nascar consider adding Newman and Gordon to the Chase in positions 13 and 14 due to the spin by Boywer? I would hand out fines like you said to take MWR out of the Chase so to speak.

  5. Mr Moody. I respect your opinion on this but your slightly off in my opinion. NASCAR absolutely can put Gordon and Newman in the Chase. Absolutely can.

    Why can't they take a car out? This is a sport that has NEVER taken cheating seriously and it's time they did. And it's time that integrity trumps the almighty sponsors.

    NASCAR has added a whacky points program to a sport that was flush with cheating since they've raced on sand and this is the result. They are becoming no better than the WWE or a reality TV show like Survivor. I hope you change your mind on the validity of the Chase in a world class motorsport.

    DQ the 15 and 56 car from the Chase, fine MWR 500K dollars and add the 24 and 39 to the Chase.

    NASCAR has got to do this or forever be manipulated by cheating liars costing them thousands of fans. The sport is a joke otherwise.

  6. Anonymous12:30 PM

    If there is enough evidence to penalize Boyer. I don't know if it should be a penalty to take him out of championship contention. I do think the right thing is to recognize Truex and Newman were TIED at the end of Richmond and allow a Newman in as a 3rd wildcard team. You can't have a tie for the final championship, you need tie breakers for that, but just to get into the chase I think it would be fair to throw out the tie breakers to say both get in given the circumstances.

    As much as I like Boyer, it looks WAY too suspicious and I would love to see Danica step up for the team and spin near Boyer to take him out when he is having a good race. Danica spins enough that it would be less suspicious. :)

  7. I have to disagree. This was a team order, and the team should endure the consequences. In this case, the team is MWR, not just the 15 (or 55) car. Just like a crew chief is responsible for the actions of everything associated with his car (see Brian Berry's fine for the actions of Kelly Heaphy), MWR is resposible for the actions of everything associated with all their cars. When the team (MWR) conspires to alter the outcome of a race, and with it, the lineup of the championship Chase, NASCAR needs to put their foot down hard. We've seen them come down on a team when the car is messed with, why shouldn't someone messing with their Chase be any different?

    With that said, I agree that you cannot rewrite history, and Carl should not be punished for MWR's actions and his victory should stand. However, NASCAR is perfectly capable of adjusting the scoring of the race. Specifically, the 3 cars under the MWR umbrella can be no longer scored as of the point of the incident (the spin). From that point on, it is like they stopped dead on the track, losing however many positions they normally would with 7 laps to go and let the cards (or Chase slots) fall where they may.

    Not only does this punish the guilty team (MWR), it sends a very clear message to every team that NASCAR will not tolerate race and Chase altering actions by any multi-car team to benefit another car in their stable. I realize this may simply shift the shenanigans to the point where a team may "hire" a single car team to bring out a caution if requested, but doing nothing at all would be worse for the sport's integrity.

  8. Anonymous12:40 PM

    NASCAR should just dump the chase I for one do not watch the races like I did in the past the chase has changed the whole thing for me and ruined it race till the last race and award the championship or a better finish in points to guys that don't make the chase If they did then we would not even be talking about this

  9. I personally feel NASCAR needs to fine Clint Bowyer & Brian Vickers 100 points for the infraction. Martin Truex gets a 50 point penalty and MWR gets a 100 point penalty on owner points on each team. Reset the points prior to the end of the race before Chase points applied. Ryan Newman goes in as well does Jeff Gordon. Any organization that blatantly did what they did has dishonored the Chase and NASCAR has a whole. The 2 guys screwed the most worked hard all race long to do what they needed to do. While one team decided they didn't like it so we will cheat. This should not be tolerated or allowed, if NASCAR does; than they have set a dangerous precedent. The NFL or NBA would not allow a team to bamboozle there playoffs, NASCAR shouldn't either.

  10. Riki Rachtman12:58 PM

    I believe Menard may have got a little loose which made it possible for Edwards to get such a good start. I don't really have a problem with the restart. I also don't see a problem when there is a question in a restart to throw an immediate caution and have another restart.Happens at local short tracks all the time however I would hate to see this happen several times a season but it appeared the start was in question right awayso a yellow may have been the right thing to do.

    . As far as MWR.
    It's really hard sometimes to find fault in people you really like. I would love to blow it off thinking it wasn't intentional. I can't deny it. Pure flat simple it was. I'm not a fan of F1 and I have seen blatant examples of team orders and that is one of the reasons I'm not a fan of that sport. I can tell my self that with the millions on the line and the importance of making the chase that it was all strategy and if I was a team owner I would do the same. It's not WWE There is no predetermined winner. It is strategy and that strategy included cheating.

    The more I think about it the more it makes sense and sickens me at the same time. If you took it another step saying this action is acceptable it could leave so many things open to opportunities for a team to have a driver whose only job is to be hockey's version of a goon...
    So what do you do? I don't know Moody I'm just some rock guy from Hollywood

  11. Anonymous1:06 PM

    I feel like because Truex is part of the team and ultimately gained from Bowyers action that both should be disqualified from the chase and only allow the remaining 10 drivers run for the championship. That said, there should also be a handsome fine for MWR aswell.

    1. Gonna have to agree with Anon here. From the get go, I've been thinking that DQing MWR as a whole is the only solution here.
      You can't really go back and put Gordon and Newman back into the Chase... as much I'd like to see both there.

      But leaving the 15 and 56 in, even with huge point penalties, just makes the whole Chase laughable. Why give them the chance to participate in Chase functions and ads? Nothing would send a better message than kicking MWR out and basically saying: We don't even wanna see your faces.

      And as much as I like Mikey Waltrip... this is downright shameful. If the jet fuel additive at the Daytona debut wasn't bad enough, this has got to be bad enough to completely kill his good guy image. Sad, sad, sad.

  12. Ultimately NASCAR has to break up multicar teams because that is what has brought this bollox onto the sport.

  13. Scott1:35 PM

    Right on, Moody... But is Clint the ONLY "Guilty" party here? "Live as a TEAM - Die as a TEAM".........

  14. " If it can be reasonably determined that Bowyer did so, he can (and should) be sanctioned severely by NASCAR, with enough of a points penalty to render him a non-factor in the 2013 championship chase."

    Why shouldn't NASCAR dock him enough points to remove him entirely from the chase? That audio was blatant and insulting to fans. It should be made clear something so foolish (itch my ***) should be unacceptable. The driver at that point should look back on this year's race in future years and say "no way". Vickers and his crew chief should not escape sanctions either.

    Bowyer and Vickers should have points taken away then the chase field should be set. Bowyer should be out of the chase via points from the penalty and both their crew chiefs and the director of competition for MWR should be suspended for the rest of the season.

    Truex Jr didn't do anything on audio / video other than race. He benefited, but didn't commit a provable offense.

  15. Anonymous1:42 PM

    Nothing can be done, Nothing was done when Gordon intentionally stuffed Bowyer in the fence last year and brought out a caution

  16. Anonymous1:44 PM

    If there is any malfeasance found in the actions of the MWR team, you can't fault the drivers of the 56 and 55. Truex just drove his guts out like he is paid to do. Vickers came into the pits when he was told to pit. I read another account that he even questioned the call, (Jenna Fryer 08SEP13).

    That being said if it is determined that Bowyer took actions to manipulate the Chase standings, I would say a point penalty sufficient enough to remove him from the top ten, and thus the Chase, would be a appropriate. Oh yeah and a big money fine.

    Now as far as crew chiefs, Competition Directors, and other MWR Management persons, big points from the 15 car, bigger money, and an early Christmas vacation for them.

    Indiana Rick

  17. Ron Barcomb1:46 PM

    Well said Dave....but U and I both know what its like to go up against NASCAR, they hand out penalties and make decisions that are inconsistent ALL the time. They have an agenda and being fair isn't part of we think it should be. But your right, they should, they won't and they don't !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Barky

  18. Anonymous1:46 PM

    I think both Boyer and Truex should be eliminated from the Chase and the next two added. Then maybe old Mikey will quit grinning like a possum.

  19. Anonymous1:56 PM

    Nascar says they don't want to open Pandora's Box, seems to me MWR already did! Fix this the way it should be fixed or I'll spend my money on Indy! MWR doesn't deserve to be in the Chase! Not just the 56, but also the 15! Even though he ran good all year to get himself in the Chase, by cheating he loses it! Plain & Simple! If you cheat, you pay the consequences! NO CHASE BIRTH FOR MWR TEAMS! A huge fine needs to be accessed against MWR also to keep teams from trying this crap in the future!

  20. Great writing as always. My thoughts are that the penalties should be to the team as the drivers were only doing what they were instructed to do. As someone said today on the air, the chase should be cut back to 10 and make the MWR cars ineligible. Pull Mikeys hard card and ban him from the tracks as he is the owner and hit his pocketbook from a racing standpoint as well as a broadcast standpoint. that will get some attention. Just my two cents..

  21. Anonymous2:11 PM

    If NASCAR were to take out Bowyer and Truex from the chase by deducting points for the MWR teams altering the outcome of the event, also penalizing Vickers team for team going 2 laps down through team orders. Joey Lagano should not be removed from the chase because of the MWR team orders. Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman should also be added making it a 13 car chase. If the race would have ended without a caution they would have made the chase anyway. Calling it the MWR NASCAR CHASE Enhancement Rule. And fine MWR $500,000 per team. That would insure that in the future no team would ever alter the outcome of the race or risk their GOOD NAME.

  22. Anonymous2:38 PM

    There were 25 other previous races, so it seems we will need to go back and investigate every incident involving the 2, 5, 10, 14, 15, 22, 24, 39, 48, 55, 56, and 88 to make sure the right drivers are in the chase? After each assessment, we will need to determine what eachof those cars might have done differently in every subsequent race, based on points standings. Once we have doen this, I believe the Chase field will be the 99, 29, 78, 16, 1, 27, 43, 17, 9, and 33. The 13 and 34 are then your Wild Cards. Many of them have teammates, so to be on the safe side let's just run Kurt Busch and Bobby Labonte heads up for the drivers title, assuming we can get Booby a car to run.

    Teams use the rulebook to their advantage all the time. Stay out under caution to lead a lap. Let a teammate by to get a bonus point. Let's make sure we scrutinize every step so when the 2014 rule book comes out there is no possible way to exploit it. Alas, that is probably why the rulebook changes every year.

    In the meantime, other than Dale Jr. in the Spring 2004 Bristol race. What precedent is there to work from? Given that Clint was locked in, do we view this as the same as a non-points competitor taking a truck title contender out and park him?

    The later seems a bit over the top for an action that only had the potential to change the outcome, rather than a guarantee, unless a "body of work" case can be compiled.

    My, my, my. The folks in Daytona sure will have their hands full the next couple of days.

  23. Anonymous2:57 PM

    I believe the least they should do is add a 13th and 14th car to the chase and let Gordon and Newman in. Even if they don't penalize the MWR drivers, adding Gordon and Newman is the least they can do. They can't take Logano out. He didn't do anything wrong, even though he benefited.

  24. Anonymous3:22 PM

    Don't forget that Marcos Ambrose pulled over and let Joey Logano pass him (both Fords).

    Also, Jeff Gordon took Clint Bowyer out of Championship contention by "paying him back", and NASCAR did nothing about it. So why shouldn't Bowyer do anything he can to take Jeffie out a being a Championship contender. It also hurt the Hendrick super team by eliminating Newman. 2 for 1 with one spin.

    A lot went down in the waning laps of that race.

  25. What NASCAR rule is being violated when there are team orders?

    Fact is there have been team orders in racing for as long as there have been teams in racing. Do people think that only happens in F1?

    Drivers bringing out a caution on purpose? Who would ever think of such a thing? Drivers intentionally wrecking another driver?

    ...and we all know drivers would never, ever drop junk on the track to bring out a caution, right Brad K?

  26. Anonymous3:43 PM

    Definitely didn't like it, being a fan of Truex, Bowyer, and Newman, Gordon also screwed, wish there was a good answer, not that Nascar would ever take my advice anyway, but I am an in agreement that at least take the owner's points enough so they're out of the chase championship, probably some points from Bowyer, though it seems from the audio he wasn't too keen on what he was ordered to do, Vickers a fine to the owners, since Vickers seemed to like it even less, and then make a case by case exception, that put Newman and Gordon back in, there has to be something done to waltrip, and his partners, and have him go to Toyota, AGAIN, and explain why that team got in trouble for cheating again, no one has mentioned it I think, but how awful for Truex, at such a high point, when the first questions to him are about the monkey- business, feel bad for him

  27. the debster3:55 PM

    circumstantial evidence is all you have. No hard facts or admission of guilt so I'm afraid it will probably stay as is.
    It's happend before and will happen again.
    1/2 the drivers in the field would be out if you could read their minds.

  28. Anonymous4:33 PM


    Where did you learn how to write? You do it so very well..

    Bill Davis "The other one"

  29. Anonymous5:08 PM

    It's all about the money. Heard that an owner can gain $4-5 million per car by being in the chase. Bring on the penalties NASCAR and MWR still comes out a winner! Even if they fine MWR do you think it will be in the millions? I don’t. Park the MWR cars, all of them, for the rest of the season then maybe MWR, and all of the others, will think twice before they do anything like this again.

  30. Anonymous5:28 PM

    Nascar has officially turned into F1 team orders....purposeful crashing.....slowing down and driving like my great grandmother...Nothing to look at here do pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

    I was listening to your show on my way in to work today (second shift) and while I agree Truex and Lagano did "nothing wrong" the purposeful manipulation by the MWR organization, also hurt Newman and Gordon who also did nothing wrong...This was gaming/cheating the system...and they should be penalized as an arganization...

  31. Anonymous5:48 PM

    I see the circumstantial evidence but no one knows what really happened but Clint. Last year Jeff Gordon Put Clint into the wall and cost him the championship! No one cried as hard or as much when that happened! So what if the others has worked harder during the year and got the points they needed this discussion would be a moot point! So Jeff missed by 2 points he even admitted that they had a bad year. And as for Newman blaming his pit crew for the pit stop and costing him the spot How the hell did Bowyer or MWR cause that? Suck it up and grow a set because I think you lost it in the final few laps!!!

  32. Anonymous6:21 PM

    I'm not a race car driver, but I have driven many miles in trucks and cars. My question is how do you soin your car in a ccwise circle by turning the wheel to the right? It looked to me like Clints car was already spinning when he turned thr wheel and he was just trying to catch the car. What I have a problem with is why didn't Newmans crew get him out first? He came in first, like he said. MWR could have not had any idea the 39 crew would drop the ball. The rest of it, pulling the cars into pit lane is what I have a problem with.

  33. Anonymous6:25 PM

    I dont think anything well happen sad but true.. I all about the money.

  34. Setting a precedent in this case may be helpful for the future of NASCAR. Make an exception to right an egregious manipulation. Dock megabucks from MWR, doc Boyer 100 points, and as a special consideration in this special case, allow Ryan and Jeff into the chase. SHR, HMS, Chevrolet, Quicken, and Drive to End Hunger all got screwed. If nothing else but the business aspect of this is considered, NASCAR has to act to acknowledge the manipulation, make it extremely unlikely to happen again, and right the wrong caused by it.

    Several years back Robert Yates was talking about cheating in NASCAR. He said he didn't mind when his competitor worked in the gray area, that was fine. But when someone cheats they are taking money out of his pocket, and he could not accept that. Seems like that is exactly what happened here. I hope NASCAR does something they have never done before to fix this.

  35. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Obviously, the circumstantial evidence seems to take the side that this was indeed an intentional spin. I know all of the focus is on this Bowyer incident. I did not see all of the race, but I know that Jeff Gordon was two laps down at one point and managed to get back on the lead lap. I believe Jimmie Johnson brought out a couple of cautions, if not, at least one. Did Jeff get any of his laps back due to Jimmie? If NASCAR is reviewing the race, I think they need to review all of it. Have to be very careful here folks!!

  36. Anonymous6:55 PM

    Drivers routinely give up first place to a teammate so that the teammate can get their bonus point and then fall back out of the lead. While this may not change the outcome of the race, it can and probably does have effect on who makes the chase or who wins the championship. Why is this spin so different?

  37. Sad and disappointed on so many levels. This directly impacts the integrity of the sport... a sport which I love. It seems this crosses the line, not merely a "pull-over for a teammate" but a move that directly impacts the outcome of the race.

    We have only one chance for our "seventh game" race and it was proving to be incredibly inspiring... watching racers drive the race of their lives and control their destiny. How proud we could we be today had things gone differently? I defend the sport many times during the week, but this seems indefensible. ***sigh***

    - I want to be a fly on the wall when Stewart & Boyer meet.
    - Does this impact their friendship?
    - I am still in denial that Boyer, with his racer's heart, would go along with this. Certainly he cannot feel good about himself. No one is laughing about this one. Does the $4-$5 million gained from making the Chase not mean as much to Stewart/Haas?
    - It seems like MW was beginning to gain credibility as a serious team owner... out the window in one fail swoop, in my opinion. I had a difficult time watching the truck race Sunday with him announcing.

    I will be making my 4th trip to Championship Week in Vegas... should be interesting.
    Waiting with bated breath for NASCAR's response.

  38. Anonymous7:14 PM

    This is much ado about nothing. You can not conclusively determine that Clint Bowyer spun out on purpose. Anything on the radio is anecdotal and not true proof. Is there a rule about Brian Vickers coming and pitting when he didn't need to? I don't think so. What would you penalize him or MWR for there? I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed when NASCAR doesn't do anything at all with this one....

  39. Anonymous8:38 AM

    I need to go back and look. When Jimmie hit the wall, did Gordon get a lap back? Interesting, if so. Maybe we could look at the audio clips of that incident? Or in years past when an owner would start a second or third car just to finish behind their primary to help ensure a championship. I don't see this as any different. Junior was fined, what, 25 points in 2004 (5-10 positions on the track, versus more than a full race in points for MWR) I don't get the inconsistency. . .

  40. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Good bye NASCAR I am tired of all the inconsistency with calls and not taking the ripple effect into consideration and adding a 13th driver. This is one ripple effect that I will not ignore! I am done spending thousands of dollars every year attending races and spending money on NASCAR apps and merchandise. I will have more time for fishing and spending more quality time with my family away from NASCAR!