Nascar, you almost got it right.

If you’re Nascar fan you probably were watching the race on Saturday evening at Richmond International Raceway. This track is 3/4 of a mile and with 43 cars racing there was the usual bumping and banging.  Several drivers were trying to race their way into the Chase (A 10 race Nascar Playoff to crown the champion).  Positions changed several times and with 8 laps to go it looked like the chase positions were set.  Jeff Gordon ( running 8th place would have finished with enough points to finish 10th in the points and make the chase) and Ryan Newman (the race leader getting via the wildcard spot) were going to be in the chase.  Joey Logano was running 25th and would finish two points behind  Jeff Gordon and would not make the chase. The race was pretty spread out and nobody was close enough to the driver ahead of them to change the finishing order.  The reason I mention specifically these two drivers is because of a caution on lap 7.

On lap 7 Clint Boyer, a driver for Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR), spun out which brought out a caution.  This is significant because prior to the spin Jeff Gordon would have made the chase and Martin Truex, Jr. (another MWR driver) would miss the chase by one point.  As of lap 8 without a caution or a mechanical failure no driver with a shot to make it in the chase was in danger of losing their spot. 

The race restarted with three laps to go.  On the start Carl Edwards jumped the start but that really was not a factor in the finish.  BTW, Nascar blew that call too, but Paul Menard did seem to spin the tires so we will let that go.  So the race finishes Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon do not make the chase, but instead  Joey Logano  and Martin Truex, Jr. make the chase.

At the end of the race, Boyer claimed the car just got away from him, too much wheel he claimed.  Ah, but thanks to network coverage they have a recording of Boyer’s spotter telling him where his teammates were in the race and the chase and then said that if his arm got tired everyone would understand.  Following the finish of the race Michael Waltrip gets in the radio and tells Truex he has some great teammates, strange language for an owner to use unless he knew that the spin was intentional.

Late Saturday night into Sunday morning the rumblings of this spin grew louder and Nascar started to get more information which caused them to start an investigation.  So on Tuesday, September 10, the announce the following actions because of events in the race:

NASCAR Penalizes MWR following Richmond, Truex out of Chase, Newman in: NASCAR has issued penalties to Michael Waltrip Racing following the sanctioning body’s review of Saturday race at Richmond International Raceway. MWR was found to have violated Section 12-4 (Actions detrimental to stock car racing). As a result, MWRs three teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (#15, #55, #56) have been penalized with the loss of 50 championship driver and 50 championship owner points, respectively.
These point penalties are assessed following the seasons 26th regular season race and not after the seeding for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Therefore, the point total for the #56 car driven by Martin Truex Jr. is reduced to 691, putting him in 17th position and eliminating him from the second Wild Card berth for the Chase field. Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 car, now moves up into the Chase as the second Wild Card participant.
NASCAR has also fined the MWR organization $300,000 and indefinitely suspended Ty Norris, MWR Executive Vice President/General Manager and spotter for the #55 car, for violating Section 12-4. The three crew chiefs  Brian Pattie (#15), Scott Miller (#55) and Chad Johnston (#56) have all been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
Based upon our review of Saturday nights race at Richmond, it is our determination that the MWR organization attempted to manipulate the outcome of the race, said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. As the sports sanctioning body, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a fair and level playing field for all of our competitors and this action today reflects our commitment to that.

While I commend Nascar for their strong position they should have taken it a step further.  If they had removed Boyer from the chase, he would have suffered the most, rather than have all MWR teammates getting the same penalty.  Second removing Boyer would have moved Jeff Gordon into the chase where he should have been and third it would not have penalized Joey Logano for making the chase as he did with the finish he had.

So to sum it up, Nascar, you had the chance to score a touchdown but instead settled for a field goal.  The winner, Ryan Newman, the losers, Jeff Gordon and all the fans who deserve better than having a cheater in the chase.

I am Chuck Pithy and I tell it like it is.

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