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NASCAR looking into Bowyer’s Chase-altering spin at Richmond (UPDATED)

Sep 8, 2013, 1:45 PM EDT

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UPDATE (1:40 p.m. ET): The Associated Press is reporting that NASCAR is now reviewing evidence to determine whether Michael Waltrip Racing did indeed try to orchestrate the outcome of last night’s Chase-deciding race at Richmond International Raceway.

NASCAR President Mike Helton has told the AP that Race Control did not believe Clint Bowyer‘s spin with seven laps to go was suspicious, but also said that the sanctioning body would look for evidence of wrongdoing.

NASCAR has also released an official statement: “NASCAR is reviewing Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway per protocol and has no plans for further statement until that process is complete.”

A day later, the debate is still raging among NASCAR fans over whether or not Bowyer intentionally spun out to help Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex, Jr. make the post-season.

By now, we’ve all seen the in-car video of Bowyer going around coming off of Turn 4 with seven laps to go. The incident effectively ended what would have been a season-saving run to the front from Ryan Newman, and led to a poor pit stop for him under the final yellow.

He went in first, came out fifth, and could only move up to third by the checkered flag. Truex, who finished seventh, wound up earning the final Wild Card spot on a tie-breaker over Newman.

Bowyer’s spin also impacted Jeff Gordon’s bid to make the post-season after he had rallied from two laps down earlier in the night. The final restart after the spin was a bad one for Gordon, and Joey Logano managed to beat him to the 10th and final spot in the Chase by a single point.

For his part, Bowyer blamed an ill-handling No. 15 Toyota as the cause of his spin. But everything about what’s seen and heard in the in-car video – “Is your arm starting to hurt? I bet it’s hot – itch it” – is probably not doing him or MWR any favors right now.

And as USA Today’s Nate Ryan relays in his analysis of the situation, there are other pieces of evidence that appear to be damaging – Bowyer managing to lose positions in the pits after his relatively harmless spin and another MWR driver, Brian Vickers, running well off the pace on the final lap of the event.

In the NASCAR world, controversy can – and most of the time, is – seen to be a good thing. But this time, it’s not.

Newman’s final stop may have, ultimately, been the direct cause of him missing out on the Chase (it led him to throw his pit crew under the bus afterwards on national television), but if not for Bowyer’s spin, it was likely that Newman would’ve won the race and clinched a Wild Card berth.

And maybe, if the race had stayed green, Gordon would’ve been able to peel off the two extra positions he needed in order to knock Logano out and race his way into the post-season, just like he did at RIR one year ago.

Two brilliant charges from both Newman and Gordon, dashed in what appears – at least, on the surface – to be a highly suspect bit of gamesmanship.

But as Ryan points out, what exactly can NASCAR do about it? Saturday’s results can’t be undone – and as long as there are multi-car squads running around, the prospect of such shenanigans will always be there, too.

It all leads toward what may be seen as a chilling question by some of the stock car faithful: Has the moment finally arrived for NASCAR where the issue of “team orders” becomes a regular, race-to-race controversy?

  1. bluedeuce - Sep 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    I don’t see the problem with what he did. He was playing team ball and helped his team mate into the Chase. You want to get in then run better the whole year, not just rough to have a shot at RIR. One other point, these guys who just make it in won’t be a factor in the championship either other than Kurt…he is the only one at the bottom with any hope. This is Kyle’s to lose I think…Harvick second.

    • dbooth2020 - Sep 8, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      Get rid of the Chase. Remember the first year when Tony Stewart finished the first 26 races in 11th place and did not make the Chase. He went on to win several races that year and would have won the Chase except they blocked him out because he was 11th in points after the first 26 races..
      Both Bowyer and Edwards should be penalized and points taken away or eliminated from the Chase. I have lost all confidence in NASCAR just like the hundreds of thousands others which no longer fill the stands at the races. I now put NASCAR on the same level with Pro Wrestling which we all know is fixed.

      • erwin1950 - Sep 8, 2013 at 7:45 PM

        With all the cheatin’ and lying going on they should use handles like “Unmachoman 1″, “Unmachoman 2″, “Unmachoman 15″, “Unmachoman 99″ etc.

      • mpzz - Sep 8, 2013 at 7:59 PM

        Agree totally. Earnhardt must be spinning in his grave over what NASCAR has done to the sport since his demise.

      • ronatkins1953 - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

        I agree, but we will see if nascar does the right thing here and expel Bowyer and Edwards from the chase. They should at least take away the win after all Jimmy Johnson went through on restarts and getting penalized all those times just this season and then to say Edwards did nothing wrong. Nascar needs to try to redeem themselves here. Boywer is a different story. It was plain what he did and it should get him and Truex banned from the chase for sure. Waltrip should be hit with a steep penality as well; maybe banned for life.

    • lrnmnsng - Sep 9, 2013 at 7:57 AM

      If it had stayed green who know’s ? But with only a few laps to go why did anyone pit? Why was it even open.Line up and finish it. If it stays green you’ve got what you’ve got!

  2. armchairhotshoe - Sep 8, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    MWR’s only problem was the lame code signal. “I’ll bet your arm hurts.”? How about “Multi 56″ or “Martin is faster than you.”? NASCAR needs to be willing to look overseas for team orders ideas.

    • swridgley - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:44 AM

      Well Im done with Nascar. After watching and attending races for the last 35 years. They used to cheat with the cars all the time, and NASCAR came in and started checking every car. But now they can’t tell if this was planed. Really A 10 YEAR OLD CAN TELL MWR CHEATED. The others should be allowed into the chase (Newman and Gordon). The team member telling the driver to scratch his arm should be out for the rest of the season. If Nascar lets this stand I won’t watch again. Its as bad as Pro Wrestling. And by the way how did they not penalize 99 for beating the leader to the start line……..

    • markdartj - Sep 10, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      LOL “Martin is faster than you; do you understand the transmission?” They should get Rob Smedly to be Boyer’s crew chief

  3. barkleyblows - Sep 8, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Who cares!!! What are they going to do?? Take certain drivers out of the race and add the ones they want?? Sorry but Nascar is playing with fire here.

    • rhine6067 - Sep 8, 2013 at 10:17 PM

      exactly, because they did absolutely nothing last year when Gordon took out Bowyer at the end of the Chase. Hendricks has done this before where they have taken out other drivers to help Jimmie or Jeff. But god for bid it is someone else they should be taken out of the Chase! Bowyer always gets screwed one way or the other. What the odds, even if they did do this, that they knew it would work! “All the stars would have to be align,” Newman would have to have done crappy in the pits which he did! OMG that worked too! The only thing they could be sure of was maybe knocking out Gordon, and with Bowyer and Gordon’s history after last year. Payback is a bitch!!! I mean really- all the stars had to aligned just perfectly to work out. Prove that!!!!

      • shadymac9 - Sep 9, 2013 at 1:43 AM

        Truex was out of the chase, so they did the ONLY thing they could do.. Newman had the race won.. The likelihood of Newman losing spots in the pits and or on the restart is irrevelant.. They were desperate and Nascar and everybody but you knows Boyer wrecked to help his teammate get fresh tires and gain two spots.. It was cheap but it worked.. Using “itch your arm” as code was so lame and obvious,Nascar can’t ignore it..

    • ronatkins1953 - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Dont they basically do that now?

  4. barkar942 - Sep 8, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Let’s talk about the amazingly timed debris caution that , wow, isn’t it amazing that Jeff Gordon had had passed someone to become the first car one lap down and become the Lucky Dog?
    Wanna talk about conspiracy? HENDRICKCAR—-I mean NASCAR should shine some light on themselves over that one.

  5. dan46778 - Sep 8, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    It looks fishy

  6. queenofsummit - Sep 8, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    Is NASCAR also looking into JJ’s spin after all that’s what got his teammate Gordon back on the lead lap and shuffled most of the cars that had been competitive all night to the rear. And what about Carl and that re-start sorry but if your going to review one you’d better review them all .

  7. timberrattler - Sep 8, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Nascar went to the dogs when they instituted the chase years ago. They had a fair system of scoring, why didn’t they leave it alone. They can never be sure that Boyer spun intentionally, the only thing that I seen that was intentional was Edwards jumping the restart, he should have been penalized for that. I’m a Gordon fan and I’m not complaining about him not making it, he should have run better the first 25 races, not wait till the last one. But if it is proven that MWR cheated, they should have owner points and driver points taken away for all that was involved.

    • russelljaso - Sep 8, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      I’m or should I say was a big fan of NASCAR. I also hate the announcers Larry Mac, Petty…all these new rules. What happened to driving your car to the race and race the same car. This sport is going down hill fast. What a shame!!!!!!

    • greedybastards - Sep 8, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      Your dead on timberrattler as I slap forgot about them starting the Chase to start with. They race all year and it comes down to the last 10 races meaning anything. Why not just put the Chase drivers only on the track and let them finish out the rest of the season.

      If I didn’t know better I’d think NASCAR is scared of these teams and drivers.

      If Bruton would get after their ass, then NASCAR would change something (He-He!!!)

  8. chwi39 - Sep 8, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    MWR…. CHEATER CHEATER PUMPKIN EATER! I Hate friggon cheaters! You got Carl Edwards! looks to me he jumped….Then wins! Then You got the friggon MWR CHEATING LIKE HELL! That you can friggon see with no question PLUS THE TALK CODE WORDS! We are done with NASCAR! We stopped watching the pre show… Due to Waltrips mouth and Oh we can’t forget Petty! He is an AZZ! period. And Now the RACE IS A JOKE! I HAVE BETTER HINGS TO DO ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHER FANS THAT QUIT FILLING THE STANDS!

  9. tigerusa20 - Sep 8, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Seems to me if MWR just got some better code words, everything would be fine.

  10. harrydknutz - Sep 8, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Mike Helton and his Merry Crew are making a huge deal over Clint Bowyer and what he did. Now I am in NO way saying what Clint did was right because I don’t think it was BUT WTF about Carl Edwards and what he did. Carl jumps the start and Mike Helton and his Merry Crew say that’s perfectly fine. That’s BULLSHIT Carl “FUCKHEAD” Edwards gets away with anything.

  11. greedybastards - Sep 8, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    NASCAR bent over and kissed the multi-team owners when they let Jimmie Johnson use Jeff Gordon’s pit crew.

    NASCAR brought this on, so live with it

    You might as well call it Hendricks – Rousch – Gibbs Sprint Cup Chase (Cheat) and feel free to substitute any other names.

    Bowyer has got some nuts to say NASCAR can’t change the results. He should be banned from the Chase just saying it and being so damn arrogant. I bet you he will not win the Chase now cause his big mouth just stuck a target on his back and someone will bullseye it within the next 2 races and they want even have to announce it over the radio!!!

  12. justjoeyinvt - Sep 8, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    …as of last evenings Sprint Cup Race, Nascar has lost all of it’s credibility and integrity. You have now become nothing more then professional wrestling, a “B: rated performance company, a long shot at calling yourselves a sport. Instead of moving forward and expanding in growth, I like many others will no longer follow this show. I am now and have been a fan following Michael Waltrip Racing and even more so when Clint Boyer joined the team. It was the best that could happen. But fan or not, what Michael Waltrip and Clint Boyer did in the closing laps of last evenings race took away every reason I had to call myself a follower. That dishonest move changed the outcome of the “Chase”, the Season, and most likely the career of another driver and it goes without any consequence at all by the sanctioning body of Nascar. Your so quick to jump down a driver, crew chief or whole teams about cars being beyond tolerances of .0001 or more that most likely wouldn’t do much to change the outcome of any event but you let a blatant dishonest move like Clint purposely spinning out his race car go un addressed. Good-bye Nascar and hearing the talk and chatter on public media, I am not alone.

  13. jrobertanderson - Sep 8, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    I been watching Nascar for a long time ,, when you set rules why don’t stand by them ,, review the race and do what you did to Jimmie Johnson ,, everybody seen Carl start ahead of the leader ,, they should have stop the race and put him at the back,,, and the Nationwide race Friday night they let
    Keselowskie do the same jump the restart before he got to the line and stole the race ,,,fair is fair

  14. macoan - Sep 8, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    A NASCAR team being a team? Wow, like we have never seen that before. In restrictor plate racing, if a teammate loses the draft, sometimes a teammate will drop back and “pick them up” so they don’t go a lap down. Plus it’s OK for a TEAM like Hendricks to spend millions to help their TEAM and share the information with their teammates… but as soon as another team does something and it effect one of the popular drivers, OH NO… can’t have that happen. (At least it didn’t effect Dale Jr…. They would have already burnt MW at the stake)

    • fave88 - Sep 8, 2013 at 7:28 PM

      Hey moron, oh I mean macoan…This article is about a cheater Bowyer an MWR. not Hendrick, and certainly not Dale Jr!!! 42 drivers ran a clean, race last night, with the exception of one driver and one team, guess who? If you can’t answer the question, find a rerun of the race and stick to the subject of this conversation!!!!!

      • macoan - Sep 8, 2013 at 8:35 PM

        I love it when people make it personal.. just means they don’t really have any valid points. My comment was in response to those who are upset because *possible* a driver did something to help their teammate. Many of the people upset because it caused Gordon (Hendrick Driver – hence, me talking about Hendrick teams) to miss the chase. As for your question, even though I hated that Newman missed the chase, I did not consider anything done on the race track last night as anything but run clean. Helping teammates (if that is what happened) happens all the time – in MANY DIFFERENT WAYS, on and off the track. If you were unaware of this, then welcome to NASCAR.

    • fave88 - Sep 9, 2013 at 8:53 AM

      Hey moron, oops, did it again..did you not listen to the radio communication between Bowyer and his crew chief? “Does your arm hurt? Is it still hot in there? Itch it! If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck……! There were TWO drivers that The CHEATERS of MWR”s team affected, not only Gordon, but Newman, so get off the Hendrick BS!!!!! There are other ways to “help your teammate besides CHEATING! If you are unaware of the blatant cheating of Bowyer, welcome to the real world of WWE Nascar!!!

  15. suecard - Sep 8, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    LISTEN UP NASCAR……….. GET RID OF THE CHASE.. .. WHY WATCH THE SEASON AT ALL WHEN WE CAN JUST TUNE IN NOW TO SEE WHO IS GOING TO BE THE CHAMPION IN TEN RACES.

  16. bikesgonewild - Sep 8, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    …i’ve always enjoyed a lotta forms of autosport but to see the manipulation of results that constantly goes on in CLOWNCAR is a bit farfetched…

  17. iberianmph.com - Sep 8, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    That’s wot you get when Piquet Jr. joins NASCAR, the source inspiration is quite obvious in this case.

  18. sportsdad61 - Sep 8, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    NASCAR SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. jdcmiller - Sep 8, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    For those of you claiming Edwards jumped the final restart. Just an fyi the leader on the restart spun his tires admitted it in post race radio interviews, next topic please. NASCAR has become NASCRAP. Restarts being jumped are common occurrence in any form of stock car racing. A lot of these claims of someone jumping a restart are in fact inaccurate. The “jumper” just got to the loud pedal faster. Ron Hornaday was accused of jumping restarts for years now drivers come to him for advice on restarts. It’s simple, learn what you’re talking about before you bash someone. Your comments are literally making me laugh.

  20. ronnielane2013 - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:59 AM

    Bowyer is a weasel and needs to be suspended for the first 3 Chase races. He’s never going to live down this B.S. and neither is his boss ~ Michael Waltrip. MWR has always been a 2nd class operation and this just goes to prove it.

  21. dan46778 - Sep 9, 2013 at 4:07 AM

    Has a Jeff Gordon fan since 94 yes j am disappointed that he did not make the case yea I am but he should have done better in the last 35 race or whatever they race… No matter every team cheats some how n in some way

  22. shoehole - Sep 9, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    Ronnielane2013. Do you remember a few years back when MWR was stealing parts from other teams In the garage and got caught. He said they must have rolled into his stall.

  23. johnmetfan - Sep 9, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    I am a die hard Gordon fan. While I do believe that MWR needs to be dealt with in regards to this race, and I do think Nascar dropped the ball in not properly dealing with Edwards jumping the restart, I can’t be ticked off at MWR alone for the lack of Jeff making the chase. There are a few ifs that happened during the year that came into play in Jeff being out in the cold. If he had finished Watkins Glenn, he would be in the chase, if he had won a race, he would be in the chase and if he had just finished a few spots better in any of the 25 races prior… he would be in the chase. I don’t like the wild card format but that is how the rules are. I don’t like the entire chase format but since it is the way, the 24 team needs to adjust better to it to seal the deal. I will always be a 24 fan but once again find myself saying”oh well maybe next year”
    Oh well…maybe next year.

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