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Question of the Day: Was the penalty against Clint Bowyer too severe?

September 23, 2010 |  9:28 am


Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Shawn Courchesne, Hartford Courant:

Absolutely not.

If anything, NASCAR didn’t go far enough in penalizing Clint Bowyer and Richard Childress Racing for skirting technical rules involving the way the team hung the body on the car that dominated Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Some are calling NASCAR’s decision to dock Bowyer 150 points a “death penalty.”

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.

Massive penalty? Yes. 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 by NASCAR officials after the final regular season event that their car was dangerously close to being deemed illegal and yet they still showed up in Loudon, N.H., with a car over the edge.

The penalty NASCAR imposed should have ensured that Bowyer wouldn’t be able to move from 12th place in the final nine races of the year.

George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel:

Clint Boyer got hosed. Big-time. He’s got no chance of winning NASCAR’s most coveted trophy.

NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship now has a big ‘ol asterisk next to it, courtesy of revisionist history. NASCAR officials gave the “all clear” following post-race inspections in New Hampshire, but then said, ‘wait a minute, we changed our minds’ three days later.

Nobody is suggesting anything disingenuous, but at the very least, there’s some competency issues on NASCAR’s end. Richard Childress Racing, which owns Bowyer’s car, had already been put on notice in the previous race at Richmond after getting close to some of the tolerances allowed by NASCAR.

So why would Childress try to game the system if his team was already 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.

Jim Peltz, Los Angeles Times:

No, assuming the appeal by Bowyer and his Richard Childress Racing team 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 (it had run out of fuel after Bowyer won) and was hit by other cars giving Bowyer congratulatory taps on the cool-down lap. However, if NASCAR decides otherwise--and it most likely will--the punishment is apt.

Carl Edwards was docked 100 points at Las Vegas, only 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 at Sonoma, Calif., in 2007. So Bowyer’s 150-point hit, while obviously a crushing blow to his Chase title hopes, doesn’t stand out as egregious.

Photo: Clint Bowyer won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, but he and car owner Richard Childress were docked 150 points yesterday for secondary postrace inspection violations.  Credit: Jerry Markland / Getty Images