NASCAR fails Bowyer
Clint Bowyer got hosed. Big-time. He has no chance of winning NASCAR's top prize.
The Chase for the championship now has a big ol' asterisk next to it, courtesy of revisionist history. NASCAR officials gave the "all clear" following postrace inspections in New Hampshire but then said, "wait a minute, we changed our minds" three days later.
Nobody is suggesting anything devious, but at the very least, there are competency issues on NASCAR's end. Richard Childress Racing already had been put on notice in the previous race at Richmond, so why try to game the system if his team already was precariously close to failing inspection?
Big Fail for NASCAR on this. It's like telling a high school kid he passed the algebra exam, then coming back two days later and saying he didn't. Sorry, NASCAR, the math doesn't add up.
Los Angeles Times
No, the penalty against Clint Bowyer wasn't too severe — assuming the appeal by Richard Childress Racing isn't upheld.
Childress said, "the only logical way" the No. 33 Chevrolet broke the rules was because its rear bumper was hit by a wrecker pushing the car to Victory Lane and was hit by other cars giving Bowyer congratulatory taps on the cool-down lap.
But if NASCAR decides otherwise — and it most likely will — the punishment is apt. Carl Edwards was docked 100 points at the third race of the season in 2008 for a rules violation. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon also lost 100 points, and their crew chiefs were suspended six races, for doctored cars in 2007. So Bowyer's 150-point hit, while obviously a crushing blow to his Chase title hopes, doesn't stand out as egregious.
Not severe enough
Was the penalty against Clint Bowyer too severe? Absolutely not. If anything, NASCAR didn't go far enough.
Sunday's victory vaulted Bowyer from last in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship field to second, 35 points behind Denny Hamlin. The 150-point penalty dropped Bowyer back to last, 185 behind Hamlin.
Have Bowyer's championship hopes been dealt a severe blow? Sure. Still, it's not mathematically impossible for Bowyer and his team to overcome the penalty. And therein lies the problem.
Bowyer and his team shouldn't be given that opportunity. The team was warned after the final regular season event that their car was dangerously close to being deemed illegal and yet they still showed up with a car over the edge. The penalty should have ensured that Bowyer wouldn't be able to move from 12th place in the rest of the Chase.
They went too far
In a word — yes. NASCAR needs to make penalties punitive as a deterrent. But the Left Turn Police should have gone a bit lighter.
Bowyer's team was warned after the Richmond race that its car pushed specification limits (by the way, when DON'T racecars push spec limits?).
Team owner Richard Childress said he was told that Bowyer's New Hampshire car would be dissected, regardless of where he finished. As Childress said, why would they even attempt to run an illegal car, knowing the spotlight was on them? He blamed the tow truck that pushed Bowyer to Victory Lane for knocking the body a smidgen past legal. Good luck proving that on appeal.
Given the circumstances and NASCAR's famously inconsistent justice, the penalty is too severe by half.