Bowyer, Childress Defiant on NASCAR Penalty
Bowyer was first to respond in a press conference held at Dover Int’l Speedway, as teams geared up for Sunday’s AAA 400 – the second race in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.
At times defiant and angry, Bowyer insists his team did nothing wrong, and that the assertions that his Richard Childress Racing team deliberately tried to circumvent the rules was absurd and tainted a victory that had helped propel him into second place in the points standings.
“You always want to win races. You're very proud to win races and I'm still proud of that win,” said Bowyer. “I don't believe that we did anything wrong. I guess I'll go on record and say that, first and foremost, in my opinion. I want my fans to know that.
“There is a lot of integrity that goes into this sport. I'm damn proud of being a part of this sport. I love this sport and I wouldn't cheat to win a race in this sport.”
Bowyer’s team barely squeaked into the Chase field following the Sept. 11 race at Richmond, and after inspecting Bowyer’s car, NASCAR warned RCR that the car had been close to failing inspection.
NASCAR further told RCR they would confiscate Bowyer’s New Hampshire car at the conclusion of the race, no matter where he finished. The car passed an initial post-race inspection at the track, and was then taken by NASCAR to their Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.
It was during that further inspection, that NASCAR determined the car was not within tolerances – by 60-thousandths of an inch, according to RCR - and handed down the 150-penalty that knocked Bowyer all but out of the title hunt.
Bowyer’s crew chief Shane Wilson was also fined and suspended for six races, as was car chief Chad Haney. Both are working this weekend’s race while RCR appeals the penalty.
Bowyer scoffed at the notion that such a small deviation could be of any advantage to him or his team, nor that it warranted such a penalty as 150 points.
“I don't think the penalty fits the crime. Sixty-thousandths of an inch, folks. Grab a quarter out of your pocket,” said Bowyer, who then held up a quarter. “That's sixty-five thousandths of an inch thick. Less than the thickness of that quarter right there resulted in a 150-point fine. Before or after this, grab that and ask yourself if that was a performance-enhancing thing right there.”
The official stance from Bowyer and RCR is that it was the victory lane push from a two-ton tow-truck – made necessary after Bowyer ran out of fuel following the race – that caused damage that led to the car being out of tolerance.
Bowyer also suggest the cars of Jimmie Johnson and series points leader Denny Hamlin should have also been given more scrutiny, after both cars needed two passes through inspection in order to pass.
“Is it possible that a two-ton wrecker could bend the quarter panel of this thing sixty thousandths of an inch? You have to ask yourself that,” said Bowyer. “But if it passed the height sticks afterwards, the very height sticks the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) did not pass, then miraculously enough when that same pit crew pushed it back around after 20 minutes it passed, that was pretty amazing.”
Hamlin, who finished second to Bowyer at New Hampshire, said Bowyer’s assertion that the infraction did nothing to improve the car’s performance was “a crock”.
“You can talk about how small the thing was off and you can really try to say that 60 thousandths didn't help (Bowyer) perform any better - that is a crock," said Hamlin. “Let me tell you something, that helps a lot. I know when we gain five points of downforce our car runs a ton better.
“They were warned, they were warned before Richard, everyone in the garage knows that. They’re the ones who wanted to press the issue and get all they could to make sure got in the Chase, they got in it, and they got busted.”
Hamlin’s words were seen as a low blow by team owner Richard Childress, who said his team wouldn’t be “stupid enough” to bring an illegal race car to the track.
“I would be bad to say what I really want to say,” said Childress of Hamlin’s comments. “I can assure you….I looked at the numbers personally and looked at the cars on the plates before they went to New Hampshire, that those cars were legal when they left.
“The only thing we can say is that when the wrecker hit the car and a couple other people hit it. I don’t think anyone could look us square in the face and say without a shadow of a doubt that that wrecker couldn’t have moved that car sixty-thousandths.”
Childress said he hopes the integrity the team has built after decades of competition would speak for itself, and that they plan to fully appeal the penalty.
“All I am going to ask for is a fair appeal,” said Childress. “That is all I want, is a fair appeal. And I have only in the history of RCR………..I don’t think we have been but to maybe three appeals. Didn’t win any of them.”
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