By admin | September 29, 2010
By Richard Allen
On Wednesday, the National Stock Car Racing Commission denied the appeal of the Richard Childress Racing #33 team relative to the infractions on their car following the Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Driver Clint Bowyer won that race but the car’s body was found out of compliance during an intensive inspection in the NASCAR R&D Center.
The penalties originally assessed and eventually upheld were a six race suspension and $150,000 fine for crew chief Shane Wilson. A six race suspension for car chief Chad Haney. And, a 150 point loss for Bowyer and RCR. To have believed anything other than a denial of this appeal would happen could have been considered wishful thinking at best.
Both sides presented evidence to support their case. RCR brought in an expert in accident reconstruction who argued that a push from a wrecker actually caused the car’s body to shift. Dr. Charles Manning says that he has testified in numerous court cases involving auto accidents.
“They paid no attention, which says something about what’s going on in there,” said Manning. “What we brought was positive proof that the damage was caused by the tow truck pushing the car.”
The commission used information from the race car’s telemetry to show that there was no spike caused by a sharp enough impact from the wrecker to move the car‘s body. Also, the commission pointed out that the construction of the rear frame of the car indicated that there had been clear intent to misalign the body.
No matter what the evidence presented by either side, the real issue here is that this team was warned one full week ahead of time that NASCAR had issues with the cars in question and that little if anything was done to correct the problem.
Bowyer himself pointed out that a team warned in advance that their car would be thoroughly inspected would be foolish not to have that car in compliance. However, that is exactly what happened. Knowing full well their car would be taken to the R&D Center after the race at NHMS, the RCR crew should have had enough tolerance built in that there could be no question of its legality. Instead, they chose to push the limits of the gray area.
Keep in mind, NASCAR officials took it back the R&D Center because they knew, or at least suspected, what they were looking for.
When it came down to it, the committee(John Capels, Lyn St. James, Waddell Wilson and George Silbermann) made the only decision it could have made. Thus, it should have surprised no one when the ruling by unanimous vote was announced on Wednesday.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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