Hunting buddies off the track, there is no lingering ill will between Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer following NASCAR’s unprecedented decision to penalize Michael Waltrip Racing for manipulating the outcome of Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
A 50-point penalty to Martin Truex, identical to point penalties levied against MWR teammates Bowyer and Brian Vickers and assessed before the seeding for the Chase, demoted Truex to 17th in the Cup standings and out of the final Wild Card position for NASCAR’s 10-race playoff.
The Chase berth now goes to Newman, who was tied with Truex in the standings after Richmond but ostensibly had lost the final wild-card spot to Truex on a tiebreaker. That changed with NASCAR’s review of late-race action at RIR.
Newman said it “was a tough call” for NASCAR to make and that Bowyer called him to apologize for the situation.
“Penalties are a part of this sport. I’m happy that (Newman) is in the Chase,” Bowyer told ESPN on Tuesday. “I think it was the right thing to do.
“You learn from everything. Somehow we gotta pick up the pieces of this and go on to the Chase. The Chase is a big thing for this sport.
With Newman leading Saturday night’s race, Bowyer spun off Turn 4 in close proximity to the No. 88 Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt on Lap 391 of 400. Radio chatter prior to the accident raised serious questions as to whether the spin was intentional, although Bowyer insisted it wasn’t.
“It all happened within two laps, it’s literally a few seconds,” Bowyer told ESPN. “If you’re part of anybody else’s bad situation or misfortune, of course you’re going to feel bad.
Jeff Gordon, the driver of the No. 24 car that did not qualify for the Chase and has feuded with Bowyer in the past, wasn’t satisfied with the penalties because it didn’t change Bowyer’s starting position for the Chase.
“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!” Gordon tweeted after NASCAR’s announcement of the penalties Monday night.
“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!.”
Bowyer shrugged off Gordon’s twitter comments.
“I wish I could take credit for the 24 not making (the Chase). I’m not that good a mathematician,” Bowyer told ESPN.
Newman, who earlier Monday announced he would drive for Richard Childress Racing next year, commended NASCAR for its action.
“I am proud that NASCAR took a stand with respect to what went on Saturday night at Richmond,” Newman said in a statement released by Stewart-Haas Racing, his current team. “I know it was a tough decision to make.
“With that being said, myself, Matt Borland (crew chief) and this entire No. 39 team are looking forward to competing for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.”
Later that evening, MWR issued a statement that addressed Vickers’ trip to pit road, after he slowed on the restart, but said nothing about Bowyer’s spin or unmandated drive-through.
“What occurred on the No. 55 radio at the end of Saturday night’s race in Richmond was a split-second decision made by team spotter Ty Norris to bring the No. 55 to pit lane and help a teammate earn a place in the Chase,” Waltrip said. “We regret the decision and its impact. We apologize to NASCAR, our fellow competitors, partners and fans who were disappointed in our actions. We will learn from this and move on. As general manager, Ty Norris has been an integral part of Michael Waltrip Racing since its founding and has my and (co-owner) Rob Kauffman’s full support.”
The Chase begins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, where Bowyer has never won.
“It’d be really good to win there. If someone wants to retaliate, nothing I can do,” said Bowyer.
Information from The Nascar Wire Service contributed to this report.