Bowyer, RCR Lose Chase Penalty Appeal
A 150-point NASCAR Sprint Cup Series penalty levied against Clint Bowyer's No. 33 Richard Childress Racing team was upheld today by a three-member appeal board.
Points at which Bowyer's car body was attached to its chassis were ruled to to be outside mandated tolerances following the opening of 10 Chase for the Sprint Cup races staged at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 19.
Bowyer's Crew Chief Shane Wilson was fined $150,000 for the violations and suspended from the next six Sprint Cup Series events along with Car Chief Chad Haney. Team owner Richard Childress was docked 150 owner points.
Bowyer had moved from 12th to second in the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup standings by squeezing the most of his No. 33 car's fuel mileage and earning his first victory of the season, second all-time at the New Hampshire facility and third of his career by 0.478 of second over Hamlin on Sept. 19. The victory will stand in Bowyer's season record.
RCR called on Accident Reconstruction Specialist Dr. Charles Manning of Raleigh, N.C., to assert that the violation was caused when a New Hampshire Motor Speedway wrecker made contact with the rear of Bowyer's No. 33 to push it Victory Lane. The car ran dry on fuel during the celebratory burnout.
The appeal panel consisting of former driver Lyn St. James, former crew chief Waddell Wilson and former USAC official Johnny Capels returned a unanimous decision.
"We instrumented the car very carefully with strain gauges and with displacement gauges. We took a car that was identical to the one at Loudon. We pushed it with a wrecker that was the same as Loudon. We measured it. There was plastic deformation, yielding when we pushed it, 40-thousandths [of an inch] and the car was only 39-thousandts out of specification.
"It tells you clearly that it wasn't out of specification before he burned out, ran out of gas and then got pushed. That's exactly what caused the accident.
"I gave them reports, scientific reports and we go to court and testify all the time and they paid no attention, which says something about what was going on in there," Manning said.
Childress stated he will appeal the panel's decision to NASCAR Chief Apellate Officer John Middlebrook, a former General Motors Corp. executive.
"After so many hours (five) of. I guess you can call it whatever you want to call it, the ruling stood. We're very disappointed. We have shown proof that the wrecker knocked the back of the car up. We will appeal it and take it to the next level," Childress said.
There have been 133 NASCAR penalty appeals since 1999. Eighty nine have been upheld, 42 were reduced or overturned and two resulted in increased penalties.
Story by Mike Schmaltz