NASCAR has made a monumental decision today, for the first time altering their Chase for The Sprint Cup standings by reportedly removing Martin Truex Jr. from the 12 car chase and replacing him with Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ryan Newman. This is according to the Associated Press’s Jenna Fryer and confirmed by USA Today’s Nate Ryan. The points penalties are applied to Richmond’s points, so Truex will not qualify, Bowyer will fall in the standings, and Vickers will take a large hit.
The specifics of the penalty center of course around Truex Jr., who will also lose 50 points on top of his playoff eligibility. The same penalty has been levied against Bowyer and Brian Vickers, essentially wiping out their Richmond points and then some. The team has also been fined a record $300,000. On top of that, General Manager of Michael Waltrip Racing Ty Norris has also been suspended indefinitely for forcing the reluctant Brian Vickers to comply with Michael Waltrip’s team orders.
Recall Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway Clint Bowyer spun under suspicious circumstances forcing a caution under which race leader Ryan Newman pit per his crew’s decision. As a result Newman went from a probable victor and in the playoffs to out, unleashing on his pit crew in a heated post-race interview.
This issue only resolves that of the wild card, for no justice will truly be served for Jeff Gordon who missed out of 10th position by one measly point to Penske Racing’s Joey Logano. Despite having a fast car and winning pole, Gordon also entered the pits and as a result was marred in the middle of the field. Logano took a wave around and gained his two positions on both Bowyer and the mysteriously slow Brian Vickers.
This marks one of the absolute worst decisions the sanctioning body has ever made, and the implications are unmatched by any other major sports league. While Newman does get a bit of justice this marks a nefarious action by a hypocritical and stricken sanctioning body confused by its own identity. The last two times Richmond has hosted excellent 25th races, and the hidden body shot which Michael Waltrip Racing created Saturday night is now nothing to the black eye which will sting the sport for the remaining ten races.
Everything NASCAR does seems to place them into lose-lose situations. A blatantly obvious example of this is “debris cautions” which often raise fan and media speculations as to the legitimacy of a sanctioning body interjecting into the actions of a live event. NASCAR has not declared new winners for questionable moves for the win and has never suspended a driver for wrecking under the rules of “boys have at it” in a Sprint Cup Series race. They have also certainly been cautious when tampering with their beloved Chase.
NASCAR’s rulebook has a purposeful gray area in which teams and engineers bend the rules for their own gain. Although team orders are banned, the penalty does not match the crime, as the execution was just plain sloppy. That sort of race strategy, however, is brilliant. Although morally low, it has been outdone by NASCAR altering its own playoff system and admitting that their beloved playoff cash cow got rigged.
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