Newman makes Chase following MWR penalties
September 09, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
Related: MWR hit with major penalties: Truex out of Chase, Newman in | Official NASCAR release on MWR penalties | Stewart-Haas Racing statement on Newman in Chase | Newman to RCR
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Two days after failing to qualify for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Ryan Newman now finds himself preparing for just that -- the 10-race playoff that will determine the 2013 Sprint Cup Series champion.
Newman is in, fellow driver Martin Truex Jr. is out.
NASCAR officials announced Monday night that upon further review, Michael Waltrip Racing officials “attempted to manipulate the outcome of the race” at Richmond International Raceway Saturday night.
As a result, a portion of the penalties handed down on Monday were the loss of 50 driver points for MWR drivers Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers. The points were deducted from the drivers’ totals before the seeding for the Chase, taking Truex Jr. from a Chase berth to 17th in the standings.
Newman, who missed making the Chase when a pit stop with less than 10 laps remaining dropped him from the lead to fifth in the running order, slides into the 12th spot in the Chase as the final Wild Card entrant.
“I am proud that NASCAR took a stand with respect to what went on Saturday night at Richmond,” Newman said in a statement provided by Stewart-Haas Racing. “I know it was a tough decision to make.
“With that being said, myself, (crew chief) Matt Borland and this entire No. 39 team are looking forward to competing for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.”
The round of late pit stops in the Federated Auto Parts 400 was set in motion when the No. 15 Toyota of Bowyer spun and brought out the caution flag with seven laps remaining. Bowyer had already clinched a berth in the Chase.
At the time of Bowyer’s incident, Newman was the race leader. Had Newman went on to win the race, he would have earned a Wild Card berth based on having two victories this season.
Conversations in the waning laps between Bowyer and his crew, as well as those between Vickers and MWR official Ty Norris, led many to believe that Bowyer’s spin was intentional, and a green-flag pit stop by Vickers -- whose car appeared to have no noticeable issues was part of the plan to allow Truex to gain the required positions on the track to earn one of the Chase positions.
“Obviously, we’re very pleased with NASCAR’s decision to provide Ryan Newman’s rightful place in this year’s Chase,” SHR co-owner Tony Stewart said. “NASCAR was put in a very difficult position Saturday night at Richmond and we commend the sanctioning body for taking the time to do the necessary due diligence to ensure that the right call was made.”
Earlier Monday, it was announced that Newman would move to Richard Childress Racing in 2014 to drive the team’s No. 31 Chevrolet. During a national teleconference, he was asked about the ending of Saturday night’s race and his feelings after more information had become available.
“My ultimate answer is it's pretty obvious to me the decisions that were made (by those involved) and the communication that's led up to that,” he said. “… I do know that based on my opinion inside a race car and watching and listening and understanding the communication that there was then, that it was not entirely an accident.”
Newman will now be making his fifth Chase appearance, and giving SHR a representative in the championship-determining format. Neither Stewart, who is recovering from a broken leg and is not expected to be back in a race car before 2014, nor Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Danica Patrick qualified for the Chase.
In addition to the driver and team owner points penalties, NASCAR fined the MWR organization $300,000 and indefinitely suspended Norris, the group’s executive vice president and general manager. Brian Pattie, Scott Miller and Chad Johnston, crew chiefs for the three teams, have been placed on probation until Dec. 31 as well.