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Helton: Evidence to punish Waltrip team came from Vickers, not Bowyer

Sep 9, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT

Mike Helton AP

Hastily organized or not, at least there was a media availability Monday evening from NASCAR President Mike Helton and Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton regarding the penalties assessed to Michael Waltrip Racing from earlier in the day.

Perhaps the most noteworthy item from the press conference was Helton’s admission that based on available evidence, it was actually the radio transmission between MWR driver Brian Vickers and crew, and not Clint Bowyer‘s caution-causing spin, that triggered the fines, points penalties and ultimate removal of Martin Truex Jr. from the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“There’s not conclusive evidence that the 15 spin was intentional. There’s a lot of chatter. There’s the video showing a car spinning. But we didn’t see anything conclusive that that was intentional,” Helton said.

Helton said that the combination of video evidence, timing & scoring information, and radio conversations are all available at NASCAR’s disposal to utilize. He and other NASCAR senior officials spent Sunday and all of Monday discussing the circumstances, and invited MWR team officials to NASCAR’s Research & Development Center.

The conversation then shifted to what had, in fact, been the cause for penalty in NASCAR’s eyes and that’s where Helton took the chance to elaborate.

“The preponderance of things that happened by Michael Waltrip Racing Saturday night, the most clear was the direction that the 55 car was given, and the confusion around it, and then the conversation following that occurrence. That is the most clear part of that preponderance. That is the most clear part of what we found in all the detail to make that conclusion,” Helton said.

Helton said Ty Norris, who received an indefinite suspension as a result, admitted to the radio transmission.

“Ty confirmed the conversation that most everyone in this room has heard over the radio with the 55 driver,” Helton said.

Attacks from teams, team members, fans and media on NASCAR’s credibility have been heard, and Helton said NASCAR has to work to maintain its level of credibility.

“As far the as credibility of the sport, NASCAR has always taken very serious its responsibility to maintain for the most part its credibility,” he said. “I say ‘maintain for the most part,’ because we get the fact that that’s subjective to fans and others in the industry. But that’s why we’re sitting here, in hopes that we did that. Sometimes it gets out of bounds in order to maintain credibility.”

If credibility isn’t on the line for NASCAR on the whole, it certainly is for Waltrip’s team, which now has another black eye after a major issue at its first ever race as a team in the 2007 Daytona 500.

  1. convincedofthehex - Sep 10, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    How is Helton going to penalize himself and NASCAR for fake debris cautions that are thrown multiple times at most every race to bunch up the field? Nascar hasn’t been legitimate in years. Hypocrites.

    • cdawgredface - Sep 10, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      Agreed. To your point, Bowyer spun but instantly gathered it up and kept going, but NASCAR couldn’t help themselves when the opportunity came up to throw a late caution. About the penalties, if they couldn’t prove the spin was intentional I don’t see why they should be able to penalize the teams. They admitted the only concrete evidence they had of manipulation was that Vickers pitted. I don’t see any problem with that, if they want to pit that’s they’re prerogative in my opinion. The only foul would have been an intentional wreck which they said they couldn’t prove.

      • NotoriousKDV - Sep 10, 2013 at 11:48 PM

        NASCAR knows Bowyer spun on purpose, they just won’t admit it because if they did admit it then they’d really have no choice but to give Bowyer a significant penalty. If they gave Bowyer any kind of significant penalty then his chances of winning the championship are gone. NASCAR doesn’t want that if at all possible.

        They want all 12 drivers to have a chance because they think that’s what’s best for their bottom line. That’s really what this is about. Money, specifically NASCAR money. NASCAR didn’t want to hurt their bottom dollar by eliminating one of their chase contenders right away so they took the easy way out.

        The 50 point penalty that Bowyer did end up with is insignificant as it doesn’t count at all against his 10 race chase total. That’s why they’re pointing to Vickers’ team and only Vicker’s team for their evidence because it absolves them of having to penalize Bowyer.

        Personally, I think that’s just ridiculous on NASCAR’s part. Sure it’s great that Newman got the spot he deserved but that isn’t enough. Bowyer played a big part in this mess while Truex really had nothing to do with it and yet it’s Truex that gets the biggest penalty by getting kicked out and replaced with Newman while Bowyer gets no significant penalty whatsoever.

        I say give Bowyer a 50 point penalty that counts toward his chase total. It would pretty much guarantee that he won’t win the championship but isn’t so harsh that it keeps him from finishing any higher than 12th. It’s not the end of the world if there are only 11 drivers instead of 12 going into Chicago that have a shot at the championship.

        I think NASCAR missed a great opportunity to send a message that anyone that tries to manipulate the outcome of a race for whatever reason, will be punished. Bowyer pretty much got off Scott free and if he goes on to win the championship then I really do think it’s a tainted championship.

  2. thetooloftools - Sep 10, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Again.. this points crap is just killing NASCAR. I have a great idea. Since most people only care about who wins, There are no points. Every driver who won a race goes to one big shootout for a 3rd and final race at Daytona at the end of the year and whomever wins that is the NASCAR Champ. BANG. OVER. No more driving slow to conserve fuel for points, and giving up spots for points. They went with the points system to get cars back on the track after wrecks. Trust me, with all the sponsor $ flying around right now, they will get back on the track no matter what to get that sponsors name out there.This sport has become weak. Winners are winners. From 2nd on back, your losers. I don’t know 1 person who even cares about the chase. REALLY. Not 1.
    If I want to see dancing around I’ll hit a strip club.

  3. Your Eggman - May 16, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    I gave up on NASCAR years ago!

  4. Your Eggman - May 16, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I gave up on NASCAR years ago! Commercial commercial commercial, Cautions makes money commercial commercial commercial.

  5. wiscpaul - May 18, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    this story is seven months old. I’m not going to comment on it.

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