By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Just days after he punched his ticket as a Chase contender, Clint Bowyer now finds himself back in the role of pretender. Today NASCAR announced the fines and suspensions from this past week in New Hampshire, among the teams affected were the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing team.
According to a press release from NASCAR, the No. 33 team was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-3 (car body location specifications in reference to the certified chassis did not meet NASCAR-approved specifications) of the 2010 NASCAR Rule Book.
According to NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton, the sanctioning body warned Bowyer’s team for a similar issue with their car following the race at Richmond that secured their spot in the Chase.
“As a sanctioning body it is NASCAR’s responsibility to regulate and enforce the rules of the sport, and by doing so to help maintain a level playing field for all of our competitors and teams. The details regarding the 33 car surround the car from a post-race inspection after the Richmond race. We gathered with the officials of RCR following the race and reinforced the fact that they have become increasingly, exceedingly close to the measurements that we allow for post-race,” Pemberton said.
“The No. 33 car was raced in New Hampshire and was brought back to the R & D Center for inspection after the race, and that car did not meet specifications, and as a result these penalties have been issued and announced today.”
The team has officially been docked 150 championship owner and driver points, and now as a result slide from second in the Chase standings back to 12th.
Bowyer will also be without crew chief Shane Wilson, and Car Chief Chad Haney for the next six weeks, both will remain on probation through the end of the season. On top of his suspension, Wilson was fined $150,000.
This is huge news as far as the Chase for the championship is concerned.
When asked if the sanctioning body ever thought of taking the win away, Pemberton had a very simple answer.
“No, as you know we don’t consider taking away the win,” Pemberton said. “And to follow that up, we feel like the penalties are — we are trying to be consistent throughout the year, and if you ask some, they would consider a 150-point penalty with only nine races to go in the Chase a pretty hefty penalty at that. For now we’ll leave the winners as they come off the racetrack, and we will fine people accordingly as we do throughout the year.”
Pemberton would go on to say, that in the future the penalty for things comparable to this could escalate to over 200 points.
“I think that going back to the points penalty, you know, at some point in time I think that you will see it continue to rise and you may even see it be more than what you can even gain by starting a race. It could get into the 200-point category at some point in time. We’ll get there sooner or later for you.”
Richard Childress sent out the following statement through his team’s website RCRracing.com regarding the penalty.
“First of all, I’d like to apologize to our sponsors, our fans and everyone at RCR for the situation that has resulted from this ruling. RCR has a long-standing reputation of integrity on and off the race track. We pride ourselves on working within the rules established by the sanctioning body.
NASCAR informed us after the Richmond race that we were very close to their maximum tolerances. They also told us they were going to take our New Hampshire car to the NASCAR Technical Center after that race. It doesn’t make any sense at all that we would send a car to New Hampshire that wasn’t within NASCAR’s tolerances. I am confident we fixed the area of concern and the New Hampshire car left the race shop well within the tolerances required by NASCAR.
We feel certain that the cause of the car being out of tolerance by sixty thousandths of an inch, less than 1/16 of an inch, happened as a result of the wrecker hitting the rear bumper when it pushed the car into winner’s circle. The rear bumper was also hit on the cool down lap by other drivers congratulating Clint on his victory. That’s the only logical way that the left-rear of the car was found to be high at the tech center. We will appeal NASCAR’s ruling and take it all the way to the NASCAR commissioner for a final ruling, if need be.”
The other team that suffered penalties from New Hampshire was the No. 46 team.
The No. 46 team was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1, 12-4-J, and 20-5.8.4.C (engine exhaust valves did not meet the minimum weight requirement) of the 2010 NASCAR Rule Book.
Crew chief Jeremy Lafaver has been fined $50,000, suspended from the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup events, suspended from NASCAR until Nov. 3 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Driver Michael McDowell and owner Dusty Whitney have been penalized with the loss of 50 championship driver and owner points, respectively.