Thursday, September 23, 2010
NASCAR docks Bowyer points
Car owner Richard Childress plans to appeal the penalty. Clint Bowyer lost 150 points.
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An appeal, 60-thousandths of an inch, and a random tow truck driver in New Hampshire could play a role in who wins this year's Sprint Cup title.
The Chase became a sideshow after NASCAR's penalty to Clint Bowyer on Wednesday. Officials ruled that his winning car from New Hampshire was illegal.
NASCAR penalized Bowyer 150 points, suspended his crew chief and car chief six races each and severely hindered Bowyer's title hopes if he doesn't win an upcoming appeal.
With the penalty, Bowyer trails series leader Denny Hamlin by 185 points with nine races left. The largest comeback in Chase history was when Jimmie Johnson rallied from 165 points back with seven races to go in 2006.
Car owner Richard Childress said in a statement he would appeal the penalty until all avenues are exhausted, claiming his team did nothing wrong.
Instead, Childress blamed a tow truck and other competitors for Bowyer's car being 60-thousandths of an inch beyond NASCAR's tolerance, calling those the "only logical'' ways the car was illegal.
Childress claims that other cars hit the rear bumper, a driver's way of congratulating a competitor on winning. He also said that the tow truck that pushed Bowyer's out-of-fuel car to Victory Lane also damaged the rear bumper. Childress said those actions caused the left rear of Bowyer's car to be too high.
NASCAR discounted Childress' theory.
"We don't feel that the incidental contact from a wrecker helped push this car out of tolerance at all,'' said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition.
NASCAR officials would not go into further detail, noting the appeal process.
NASCAR had issues with Bowyer's car the week before when he clinched a Chase spot at Richmond. Pemberton said Bowyer's Richmond car was "exceedingly close'' to going beyond the tolerances allowed. Series officials and those from Richard Childress Racing met to discuss the issue last week.
"They also told us they were going to take our New Hampshire car to the NASCAR Technical Center after that race,'' Childress said in his statement. "It doesn't 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.''
Bowyer led a race-high 177 laps en route to his first victory of the season last weekend. Bowyer, though, didn't win it until leader Tony Stewart ran out of fuel with less than 2 miles to go.
NASCAR, as per policy, did not take away Bowyer's win although his car was ruled to be illegal.
"We don't consider taking away the win,'' Pemberton said. "For now, we leave the winners as they come off the race track.''
Childress can first appeal to the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel. A three-member panel decides the case. Childress can appeal their decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer, whose decision is final.