NASCAR controversy: NASCAR levies penalties, Bowyer apologizes for spinout
NASCAR launched an investigation after Saturday night's race, determining Monday that MWR manipulated the outcome. The penalty: fines, suspensions, and rewriting the NASCAR winners' list.
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Ryan Newman also feels terrible. Only his sympathy is for Martin Truex Jr., the unwitting participant in a botched race-fixing attempt by Michael Waltrip Racing that has put two friends in an awkward position and spoiled the start of NASCAR's championship race.
"I feel bad for Martin, and I feel he didn't know anything about it and he had the carpet ripped out from underneath him," Newman told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "And I know exactly how that feels."
It's been a roller-coaster for NASCAR since there were seven laps to go in Saturday night's race at Richmond. Newman was on his way to a victory that would have given him the final spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field. Then Bowyer spun to bring out a caution, setting in motion a chain of events that cost Newman the win and the Chase berth, cost Jeff Gordon a Chase berth and put Truex and Joey Logano in the final two spots.
There were way too many questions about the final moments of the race and NASCAR launched an investigation, determining Monday that MWR had manipulated the outcome of the race and levying unprecedented sanctions that put Newman in the Chase and bumped Truex out. MWR was also fined $300,000, general manager Ty Norris was suspended indefinitely, Bowyer, Truex, and Brian Vickers were docked 50 points each, and their crew chiefs were placed on probation through the end of the year.
Bowyer, previously scheduled to spend the day at ESPN, denied the spin was deliberate. In his first interview, he said he had apologized to Newman in a phone call for bringing out a caution while Newman was leading, but said it was racer protocol for costing Newman a win.
Asked specifically if the apology was an admission of guilt, Bowyer said: "Let's not dig too much into this."
The topic was covered again in a second appearance, and Bowyer denied deliberately spinning.
"No," he said. "Anytime something happens on the race track, it's unfortunate. If I had a crystal ball and could have told you everything lined up just perfectly the way it did, there's no way you could do all that math and know everything that happened."