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Why wouldn’t Clint Bowyer spin on purpose?

By admin | September 8, 2013

Clint Bowyer’s late race spin in Richmond has sparked controversy.

By Richard Allen

There is quite an uproar in the NASCAR world after this weekend at the Richmond International Raceway. Late in the much ballyhooed “regular season finale” and the race that would determine the field for the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup, Michael Waltrip Racing driver Clint Bowyer spun to bring out a race altering caution.

Many have speculated that Bowyer’s spin was done on purpose to aid his MWR teammate Martin Truex, Jr., who was on the verge of missing the Chase without some help.

Ryan Newman took the lead of the race with 10 laps remaining. Had he gone on to win, it would have been his second victory of the season and would have assured him of a wildcard berth into the ten race championship playoff. Kasey Kahne had fallen to the point that he was no longer inside the top-10 of the standings, which meant that with his two wins he would take the other wildcard spot. That would leave Truex, with his one race win, on the outside looking in.

However, when Bowyer spun with seven laps remaining, new life was breathed into Truex’s chances. A slow pit stop for Newman put him back in the pack with little chance of getting back to the front before the checkered flag. Without a win, Newman would lose out to Truex for the wildcard spot since each driver had one win and Truex held the tie-breaker.

“I wanted to go for four tires,” an obviously agitated Newman said of the final pit stop that dropped him from the lead. “I expected my pit crew to do a better job and they didn’t. It’s frustrating.”

But back to the question of Bowyer’s spin. Was it on purpose?

The answer to that is, why wouldn’t it be?

Vote in the poll question that asks your opinion on Bowyer’s spin——————–>

When asked about the legitimacy of his spin, Bowyer replied, “I know it’s a lot of fun for you guys to write a lot of wacky things. Go ahead if you want to. Get creative. But don’t look too much into it.”

This whole sport of Sprint Cup racing is centered on one thing- making the Chase. Because of the television networks’ desire to build a week-to-week theme, they and NASCAR focus a very bright spotlight on it. It has become all that matters and teams have to do whatever it takes to be a part of the playoff. It has come to overshadow individual races so much that in-race and post-race updates on the standings have become the most important statistics shown.

Drivers and teams measure their success by whether or not they made the Chase, not how many races they won. For proof of that, when Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and the fall race at Charlotte in 2010, his season was considered a failure because he didn’t make the Chase and the rules for making the playoff were changed so that wildcard participants could be allowed in so that drivers in the future wouldn’t be considered a failure for such a season.

Sponsors base their backing of teams based on whether or not the team receiving their money can make the Chase. That, in turn, has created an environment in which the mega-teams have a distinct advantage over smaller operations.

With the Chase set up as the only thing that matters, why wouldn’t Bowyer spin on purpose to help the organization he drives for make the playoff? To not do so could put the whole enterprise in jeopardy of losing sponsorship, and thus, survivability.

And it wasn’t just MWR who was up to such shenanigans on Saturday night in Richmond. Hendrick Motorsports drivers were being reminded of Jeff Gordon’s situation and were essentially told to lay over for the #24 car in order to give him the best chance to make the Chase.

When Brad Keselowski fell back in the pack after being caught in the pits when a caution came out, his crew chief urged him to do whatever it took, including use his front bumper, to get back into Chase contention.


Forget everything else and concentrate solely on making the Chase. No one race is bigger. Fox commentator Larry McReynolds has pointed out before that the leader of lap one in the season opening Daytona 500 just earned a bonus point toward the Chase. That’s the first lap of a 36 race season and points are already being counted.

NASCAR officials get angry when comparisons are made to professional wrestling after perfect scenarios fall into place, often with the use of debris cautions and mysterious pit road speeding penalties. A fake spin, if it was indeed that, will only add to the comparisons.

One aspect of the sport has been made into a be all, end all. Don’t be surprised when teams and drivers contrive ways to get into a contrived “championship battle”.

Topics: Articles |

30 Responses to “Why wouldn’t Clint Bowyer spin on purpose?”

  1. fuel pump Says:
    September 8th, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I smell jet fuel all over again.

  2. Sue Rarick Says:
    September 8th, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Not mentioned was that Vickers all of a sudden slowed up enough to let Lagano get ahead of him and get back into the top ten. Without that both Truex would have been out anyway.

    What MWR did was more akin to points shaving.

  3. Offkilter Says:
    September 8th, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    So if i read this column correctly, it’s nascar’s fault that Bowyer spun out on purpose? It’s because of a play off points system? I call B.S. on that, Rich. If you are going to reach that far for an excuse for those MWR orders last night, please allow me to reach and grab a ” what if”. What if it had been the last race of the season and under the old points system the 56 needed the 39 not to win and the team orders come down for the 15 to spin for the caution and the 55 to pit “now” the 56 needs the point? Also, to compare that crap of MWR last night to HMS sending orders to let the 24 by is horrible. Drivers let other drivers pass all year long for various reasons. Comparing the MWR orders with the 2 car
    orders of driving agressive to achieve their goals is pitiful.
    But the thing that really gets under my skin is Bowyer’s lame excuses of a tire going down-jr spun me-that insulted the intelligence of everyone watching last night. Absolutely lower than whale dung.
    As stated in this column above, nascar throws mystery cautions and doles out questionable pit road penalties, but they can damn sure get one call right and hit MWR hard enough so that teams would never consider even ponder the notion to alter the outcome of a race with by unethical means. If they do that, then you have the answer to the question in the title of this column.

  4. Tony Geinzer Says:
    September 8th, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I find nothing funny with this episode. Richard, I want NASCAR to Fire Sprint and the Chase because frankly, I am no way feeling that I, or any other fan wants to play any “game”. I would not mind Thursday Night Races Next Fall, but, for the love of Mopar, Mikey, can’t they leave well enough alone? Speaking of loans, the way Mikey brought up Rodney Childers departure slaps of 00 and that’s not the worst thing that’s happened at Penny Lane in Liverpool , North Carolina, which is no longer in my heart or soul.

  5. brett Says:
    September 8th, 2013 at 6:57 pm


    As a racing fan far away ( tasmania ) when the camera’s turned to Michael Waltrip and crew in pit lane just after the finish he had a very worried look on his face.
    I found this to be very odd, he seemed pensive before finally cracking a smile and joining in the celebrations with his driver and crew.
    I think Jeff Gordon should have stayed out on track rather than opting for 4 new tires on that last caution, I was yelling at the tv, “stay on the racetrack, don’t pit” but he did and 4 new tires did not help at all with only 3 racing laps left.
    Oh well!!

  6. Benjamin P. Glaser Says:
    September 8th, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Ditto to the guy above who likened this to point shaving.

    MWR should be shut down for a couple of races. Most people think NA$CAR is akin to pro-wrestling with the Pierre Delabris cautions and the speeding penalties, etc…

    This nonsense just confirms it.

  7. Leto Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 2:16 am

    Why wouldn’t Clint Bowyer spin on purpose?

    Because if NASCAR’s execs were more bite than bark, they’d basically neuter Bowyer and all of MWR in such a way that they no longer will have any legitimate chance at competing for the title.

    As Tony Stewart said, there’s a LOT of money at stake in making the Chase. I would love to see NASCAR kick both Bowyer and Truex out of the Chase, maybe shut MWR down for a while, and then fine them an amount that would make Carl Long feel bad for MWR. Along with all of that, banning Michael Waltrip, Rob Kauffman, Brett Griffin, Brian Pattie, Scott Miller, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, and Martin Truex from the track for a few weeks would be fitting.

    However, it’s likely not going to happen. IF- and it’s a big IF- NASCAR does anything, they won’t do what’s right. I’d guess that Bowyer and Truex MIGHT get penalized, maybe Vickers as well, and there might be a few minor suspensions. And that’s even if NASCAR does anything. After hearing the execs talk, it sounded like they aren’t going to do anything.

    F1 had a similar team orders scandal a few years ago. The penalties that Renault were hit with were pretty severe: the team was put on notice that if they had any more infractions, they would be kicked from F1, one exec was banned for life, and another was banned for 5 years (granted, via appeal these were overturned).

    This is pretty unprecedented in NASCAR history. Plenty of teams have entered additional cars for races to help their teammates, but never can I remember where someone spun intentionally to aid a teammate without a bit of outcry.

    Short answer: Why shouldn’t Bowyer have done it? Because it’s a black mark on him, his team, and the entire series. And if NASCAR’s execs had the guts, they’d do something drastic to the entire MWR team.

  8. BobbyDear Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 4:11 am

    Newman tells it like it is. Too bad that the spin knocked Jeff out. Payback is a bitch. Re: 2012 chase.

  9. William Allman Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 5:25 am

    I was OK till I saw Tony’s statement.He won 2 years ago because Jeff Burton pulled over to give him a pass for a chevy driver to win–Now he thinks it’s wrong,Just like he thinks blocking is wrong unless he is the one doing it.WWE is about right

  10. Russ Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 6:20 am

    This is an unfortunate byproduct of multi- car teams. And one that has played out numerous times before. Perhaps not to this degree, although if I recall RCR was involved in a similar incident at Richmond a couple of years ago.
    The problem is it is very difficult to prove intent in these situations. So, again Nascar’s credibility takes a hit. Although perhaps they feel that any news is a good thing.

  11. Jesse Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Two Toyota’s knocking two Chevrolet’s out of the chase, boy I bet Toyota is so excited, can’t you just see it if Bowyer or Truex would win the chase. Then they would build a 2 billion dollar engine factory.

  12. Bill B Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 7:54 am

    While team orders and letting team mates who need points get by is nothing new, it’s usually so subtle (and therefore unprovable) that it’s impossible to police or penalize.

    What happened Saturday night was not subtle, it was blatant. So the real question is how blatant does NASCAR (including fans and teams) want this practice to become. The easy fix here is for NASCAR to draw a line and say that this went beyond that point, assess a 25 point penalty for Bowyer to start the chase, and in the future teams will have to worry about crossing a line of blatancy which will limit some of these shenanigans.

  13. doug price Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 8:22 am

    funny no ones brings up JJ hitting the wall on the straight when he was already a lap or 2 down and who gets his lap back ……….the 24

  14. Lydia Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I sure would love to hear Rodney Childers take on a this! Such a coincidence MWR letting him go before their strategy meetings! I bet he’s thanking his lucky stars!

  15. Lee Staples Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 9:19 am

    As a fan of 40 years, if you want an example of how money ruins everything, then there’s no better example to look at than modern day Nascar. Rich, I agree that Nascar created this monster, but attitudes like yours is what’s helping Nascar flush itself right down the tubes.

  16. Leto Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 10:18 am


    That’s because the 48 had a legitimate issue. In case you missed it, his tire blew out. Clint didn’t have any discernable issue with his car.

  17. John Cooke Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Having attended the race Saturday night, sitting in my new 4 Ft. wide seat that used to be 12″ wide and cost $35 more, I can personally attest that Nascar is headed down the hill. I’ve never seen so many empty seats! Somebody better wake up!! The stupid chase is the cause for all of this!

  18. Robert Eastman Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I hope that everyone that is calling for severe penalties for Bowyer and MWR believe that Jeff Gordon should have been penalized “big time” last year for intentionally wrecking Clint at Phoenix! As owner of the #48, taking Bowyer out of the Cup Championship hunt on purpose during the last few laps of the next to last race of the season was very devastating to any Championship hopes for Bowyer. Jeff not only admitted doing it on purpose, he was proud of it. Because NASCAR didn’t penalize Gordon then, if they penalize Bowyer now, it will add “fuel to the fire” that NASCAR plays favorites toward HMS and Chevrolet!

    For the record… I’ve always been a Jeff Gordon fan and have never liked Clint Bowyer… but “karma” always gets its way in the end.

  19. GinaV24 Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Nothing funny about this. I’ve never liked the chase and this sort of manipulation only makes me like it less.

    Quite honestly adding the chase “playoffs” has taken so much fun out of the sport that it is really not worth watching much of the time.

    Each race used to be an individual event and the fans went and you cheered for your driver and possibly against some. Now every single race is a points race and it is simply boring.

    I’m a Gordon fan and am obviously disappointed that he didn’t make the Chase (since as Richard points out it has become the end all and be all of this sport). However, I am even more upset if he didn’t make the chase because another team CHEATED him out of it.

    I wish I could think that NASCAR’s management will address this but I think they will prefer to say they don’t see anything wrong. The problem they may have with that is that it seems a lot of fans DO see something wrong with “fixing” an event.

    I don’t plan to watch the next 10 races if nothing is done. BZF wanted casual fans, well, here’s another one for him. Casual fans don’t follow the sport devotedly nor do they spend a lot of $ on it.

    Football, anyone?

  20. Kelly Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I see this as a very overt action if in fact it was for getting his teammate in The Chase, it happens all the time, just in more subtle ways, if you are paying attention you can see. Where was this type of uproar last year when Jeffie had a temper tantrum, went back out on the racetrack during a race ignored the black flag and crashed into Bowyer? That was race manipulation and quit possibly ruined a Championship for Bowyer. Jeffie’ actions also impacted other drivers that day. Nah Jeffie is right where he belongs outside of The Chase. He got a Hail Mary last year, he doesn’t deserve one this year. The right people are in “The Chase”. Jeffie’s stats this year are just not Chase material. I find the biggest complainers are HMS folks, its o.k. for their team or driver, but watch out if another team does it. And for the record I am no fan of anything MWR.

  21. Rusty Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Good chance the spin was intentional, but I have to say it - so what? NASCAR instituted a playoff style system that rewards points racing more than it does winning, and the fans act shocked when teams try to exploit those rules. Funny, a go to a few races a year, and once the beer is flowing I hear all the “rubbin’s racin’!” and “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying” quotes flying out of the fans’ mouths…well, here’s where we are. An intentional spin by Bowyer certainly violates the spirit of competition, but I don’t see what rules were broken. Plus, if Newman’s pit crew doesn’t screw up on that last stop, all of this discussion is moot.

  22. Russ Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Bill B. I agree with your post to a large extent. However, a 25 point penalty means nothing, unless you believe that winning the Chase is the only thing.. What is the motivation I believe is money. How much did MWR stand to gain financially by Trux making the Chase? Remember its not only the purse, or the points fund, its sponsor dollars, the ability to attract better talent, etc.
    The point penalty wont fix this.

  23. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I’ve got it!! Boyer spun after his MWR team paid the crew of Newman’s a large sum of money and lifetime employment to flub his stop under caution. See how simple it was!! No mystery at all.

  24. Mike Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    MWR is not so damn smart. If they had any brains, they would have had Vickers do the spinning and not expose their Chase qualified driver to possible penalties or retribution. Now not only do they have to sweat it out until Friday, but Bowyer better not get anywhere near the Rocket Man in any of the Chase races. Ryan might find he has a flat or something breaking in HIS car at that very moment…

  25. Jackie Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    It seems to me the MWR was just more prepared to do what ever it had to do to get the 56 into the chase and they just outsmarted SHR and Hendricks team

  26. Bill B Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    The 25 points was arbitrary - you can make it any combination of money and/or points you want. The main point of the penalty is to deter blatant race manipulation. Team would think twice or be much more subtle if they knew there might be chase repercussions.

  27. Mike Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    NASCAR has always involved cheating. Smokey Yunick, Petty 7/8s car, Childress, and yes - Hendrick. So what if he spun on purpose. He didn’t wreck anyone and it took more than that spin for the outcome to be what it is.

    Gordon didn’t deserve to be in the chase. He couldn’t win a single event this year.

    Big deal, it’s par for the course in a less than honorable series that started with moonshiners and continues as a monopoly. Get over it.

    Bodies modeled after front wheel drive cars on old tech chassis. The whole sport is out of whack.

    Many of you sound nearly as bad as that crybaby whining to France in the hospital about someone bolting a carb spacer instead of welding, an act that was not technically illegal, costing a class act a championship. Nothing surprises me anymore.

  28. Erich Says:
    September 9th, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    AMEN!!! This is the final nail in the coffin for me. You’ve said what I’ve been feeling for ten years. NASCAR died when they signed the big $$ tv contract. That’s when they started caring more about the networks’ concerns and sacrificed the fans in the stands. Notice there are no fans left. NASCAR over-reacts to every tweet and blog instead of taking responsibility for the gimmicky “sport” and circumstances they created.

  29. midasmicah Says:
    September 10th, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    The chase encourages this kind of racing. With multi-car teams, team orders are the norm. Vickers was first told to slow down, then to pit for no reason. If he refuses, he probably gets fired. And Truex is also made to look like the bad guy. nas$car needed to ban Michael Waltrip from attending any race for the remainder of the season. And yea, I can still smell the stench from the jet fuel incident.

  30. hoodlum Says:
    September 11th, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I couldn’t agree more Rich. Unfortunately, anyone that disagrees with HMS is poo poo’d and never given any airtime.