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NASCAR Levies Unprecedented Penalty On Michael Waltrip Racing For Race Manipulation
Published September 10, 2013
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JUSTICE FOR JEFF? Helton said that NASCAR officials "spent much of the day debating the penalties." Helton: "We feel like we researched it extremely well." FOXSPORTS.com's Tom Jenson wrote for Gordon, who "missed the Chase by a single point" when driver Joey Logano made up two positions at the end of the race, there is "no relief." Gordon wrote on his Twitter account, "Take me out of this completely. At this point all that matters to me is if @NASCAR decides to fix this then fix it completely!" Helton said that putting Gordon into the Chase was "not something NASCAR was prepared to do" (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/10).
SPIN MACHINE: SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass wrote MWR's "stomach-churning actions to help one of its drivers make the Chase was too much for NASCAR to ignore." NASCAR's "credibility was on the line, and it had to do something to protect the integrity of the sport and to ensure the spirit of competition." But Bowyer, who "did a very dumb thing, won't pay for it." The penalties were "harsh but appropriate." It "just wasn’t enough" and the "reasoning for it all seemed skewed." Instead of "penalizing a specific driver," NASCAR "penalized the team." A suspension of Bowyer for a race "would not have been out of bounds." This "appears to be a case where money talked." It is "big money to get into the Chase thanks to bonuses," and MWR "saw the extra cash to justify this shameless manipulation of events." Bowyer "should consider himself fortunate" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/9).
AVOIDING A REPEAT: USA TODAY's Nate Ryan writes there are "no guarantees the regular-season cutoff race won't unfold under exactly the same cloud of deceit the next time it is run." The "overarching lesson that teams learned" from NASCAR's penalties "wasn't 'don't do this, or we'll nail you.'" It was "do a better job of disguising it until NASCAR figures out how to monitor its teams' traffic well enough to determine when underhanded tactics are occurring." Ryan asks, "So what steps is NASCAR taking to ensure that doesn't happen in the future?" Helton's answer to that "wasn't exactly reassuring." Ryan writes of NASCAR, "Even though there might have been no recourse for a perfect administering of justice, there had to be a better way to reassure its fan base and industry that it wouldn't happen again" (USA TODAY, 9/10).
did not receive a spot in the Chase
DONE ENOUGH? FOXSPORTS.com's Lee Spencer wondered if the $300,000 fine and the financial impact of losing a Chase spot were "enough to ensure that what happend Saturday night at Richmond never ever happens again." Helton "would not confirm whether any of the Waltrip principals acknowledged culpability in the plot -- only that the radio conversations indeed happened." While every sponsor contract differs, two industry experts claim that, "depending on each sponsor’s performance clause, a team could stand to gain an additional" $500,000 to $2M depending on results on the track and sponsor mentions. Spencer: "If the financial threat to teams is not severe enough to keep teams from gaming the system, just how does the sanctioning body intend to stop the madness moving forward?" (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/10).
CAUTION FLAG: In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes the incident has "generated considerable attention for a sport that annually is buried by the NFL’s opening games." The controversy has "enticed people who otherwise wouldn’t have noticed to notice." NASCAR "should be embarrassed by what they see." MWR "comes off like some kind of twisted fraternity, the end of the race a twisted fraternity prank." Altering a car "is one thing," but "taking a dive to alter the field for the Chase is another" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/10).
TWITTER REAX: ESPN.com's Mark Garrow wrote, "NASCAR's new major 'no-no' list..don't mess with engines, tires,or sport's integrity. See what we did to MWR, next team gets it even worse." Gordon: "Feel bad for Truex. He got in under controversy now out due to it. But the guy who started all of this not effected at all??? Don't agree!" Waltrip: "This wasn't a master plan or about a spin. It's about a split-second decision made by Ty to try to help a teammate. I stand by my people." Media consultant Bob Margolis: "The real punishment begins for MWR this weekend when they have to wear their shame while walking through the Cup garage."