In his first public appearance since NASCAR sanctioned Michael Waltrip Racing, Bowyer was on ESPN as part of a previously scheduled appearance. He said he had apologized to Newman in a phone call, but said it was because the spin cost him a victory _ and the apology was simply racer protocol.
Asked specifically if the apology was an admission he spun intentionally, Bowyer didn’t answer directly. “Let’s not dig too much into this,” he said.
NASCAR said they could not prove Bowyer’s spin was intentional in levying stiff sanctions against Michael Waltrip Racing on Monday. Newman replaced Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship and MWR was fined $300,000 as part of the penalties.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE - AP’s earlier story is below
His reputation has been battered, his team blasted by NASCAR for manipulating the outcome of a pivotal race. Now Clint Bowyer will do his best to pick up the pieces and try to salvage his season.
It was his first public comment since NASCAR launched an investigation into his Saturday night spin at Richmond and ultimately uncovered a series of deliberate actions by Michael Waltrip Racing to alter the race results and the field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. The sordid saga concluded Monday with a hefty penalty that saw Ryan Newman replace Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase as MWR was fined $300,000, and general manager Ty Norris received an indefinite suspension.
“We penalize to ask for it to not happen again,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said. “It’s a message from the league or the sanctioning body saying `You can’t do this.’”
Newman was leading with seven laps remaining Saturday night at Richmond, where a victory would have given him the final spot in the 12-driver Chase field. But Bowyer spun to bring out a caution, setting in motion a chain of events that ultimately led to Newman losing the race and the Chase berth, which instead went to Bowyer teammate Truex.
While examining the situation, NASCAR reviewed communication between Bowyer and his Michael Waltrip Racing crew that seemed to indicate the spin was deliberate, as well as additional evidence that suggested MWR had Bowyer and Vickers take a dive over the final three laps so Joey Logano would knock Jeff Gordon out of Chase contention in yet another attempt to help Truex.
“We don’t react to the ripple effect of an occurrence because I don’t think there’s any way we can reasonably do that,” Helton said. “We look at the incident and only the incident because we know from experience that if you try to look at the ripple effect of an incident, you can’t cover all those bases. You can’t ever come up with a conclusion that is equitable and credible across the board.”
Newman was moved into the Chase because the points deductions to the MWR drivers were made to their totals at the conclusion of Saturday night’s race. Once Truex lost his 50 points, it dropped him to 17th in the standings and below Newman, who then moved into position for the second wild card into the Chase field.