Chicagoland Superspeedway certainly had a mess on its hands Sept. 7, but is NASCAR really to blame for the outcome?
Clint Bowyer, already in the top 10 in point standings, spun out to bring a caution flag to the track and allow a victory for teammate Martin Truex, Jr.
Ryan Newman, who had been leading the race, was in contention for the wildcard spot in the chase for the Cup. The caution brought out by Bowyer’s decision to spin allowed Truex to claim the wildcard.
Contention for the championship is based on points. Like many sanctioned sports, intentionally unsportsmanlike conduct in NASCAR is usually corrected by a point deduction.
After extensive investigation of Bowyer’s actions at Chicagoland, NASCAR officials decided that the drivers involved in the decision, both Truex and Bowyer, should be penalized 50 points.
NASCAR President Mike Helton had a hand in the decision, and expressed his distaste for the MWR team’s poor ethics at a press conference the following Monday.
Said Helton: “(We) make our decision based on facts as good and sound and solid for the garage area, the fairness on the racetrack across the board and for the future of the sport. … It’s a message from the league or the sanctioning body saying, ‘You can’t do this.’”
In addition to the team’s point deduction, Michael Waltrip Racing was fined $300,000 and Executive Vice President Ty Norris was suspended indefinitely for making the initial call.
Martin Truex, Jr. did not lose his chance for the Sprint Cup because he was thrown out of the chase. He received a 50 point deduction, which placed Ryan Newman ahead of him in point standings and thus eligible for the wildcard spot.
Bowyer’s spin-out affected multiple drivers, and the consequences had to coincide with all those affected. A messy and unfortunate situation it was, but NASCAR is a professional league of racing with highly competent minds in charge of its success and integrity.
A name like “Mess-Car” may sound snappy, but it does not reflect the sport as a whole. It merely reflects the decisions of MWR’s messy decisions.