Cup Drivers Rip Into Bowyer and Childress
By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
Dover, Del. – The zingers were flying fast and furious on Friday over NASCAR’s decision to penalize Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 team following their victory in New Hampshire last weekend.
Bowyer and team owner Richard Childress pleaded their innocence in front of a packed media center at Dover International Speedway.
But Chase for the Sprint Cup points leader Denny Hamlin wasn’t buying their argument.
In fact, Hamlin claims the No. 33 team has been pushing the tolerance envelope during much of the season.
“In the garage, everyone has known it for months,” Hamlin said. “It’s not two weeks old. This is something that’s been going on for months.
“They’ve been warned for a long time, way before Richmond. This is not something that, ‘Oh man, they just told us halfway after Richmond and going into Loudon that our car’s wrong.’
“They knew it was wrong way before that and I felt like they just, they wanted to get everything they could. What did they have to lose really? You almost can’t fault them for that.”
Bowyer discounted how a fraction of an inch in height disparity could give his car a performance advantage. Hamlin disagreed.
“You can talk about how small the thing was off and you can really try to say that 60-thousandths didn’t help him perform any better – that is a crock,” Hamlin said. “Let me tell you something. That helps a lot.
“I know when we gain five points of downforce our car runs a ton better. He wasn’t speeding on pit road by a half-a-mile per hour he was speeding by 5.5 miles-per-hour.
“They give you a grace period. NASCAR has been very, very lenient, I feel like, on this car and they’ve given those guys chances. I think that they should just be happy that they’re in the Chase at this point. They were warned and they were warned before Richmond. Everyone in the garage knows that.
“They’re the ones who wanted to press the issue and get all they could to make sure they got in the Chase. They got in it and then they were busted. They kept going with it.”
Hamlin said he was OK with getting second-place points for finishing second behind Bowyer at New Hampshire on Sunday.
“I’m not too discouraged with what we ended up with there,” Hamlin said. “But I know we were the fastest legal car.”
Kurt Busch chimed in by noting that if Bowyer’s car was near or past tolerance at Richmond the same points penalty would have knocked the No. 33 team out of the Chase.
“One of the scenarios that I looked at was if they had that car at Richmond that was questionable and if he would have been docked at Richmond 150 points, Ryan Newman would be in the Chase and not Clint Bowyer,” Busch said. “If I was (team owner) Tony Stewart, I’d be raising hell.”
Childress said he’s eager for RCR to present their case to the three-member appeal board.
“All I’m going to ask for is a fair appeal,” he said. “That’s all I want, is a fair appeal. I think in the history of RCR we’ve been to three appeals, but didn’t win any of them.”
Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, Bowyer will retain the trophy.
But if a car fails post-race tech, should the driver be stripped of the victory in the record books?
“This is what we know goes on in our sport and that’s just the way they do it,” Jeff Gordon said. “Do I agree with it or disagree with it? Gosh, I really don’t know.
“I’m sure if you ask Clint, he would probably say ‘might as well’ because the penalty is certainly very extreme. I don’t know. It seems like to me like there at least should be an asterisk next to the win.”
– Jeff Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments