“I believe there should be 12 cars. One in and one out should be the deal,” he said.
Trading favors on and off the track is common in NASCAR, but the series had to investigate the Penske and Front Row bargaining allegation following the embarrassment of Michael Waltrip Racing’s attempt to manipulate the outcome of the race to benefit Martin Truex Jr. NASCAR on Monday punished the MWR organization for its shenanigans over the final seven laps and pulled Truex out of the Chase in favor of Ryan Newman.
Truex, in his first comments since he was knocked out of the Chase on Monday, said it’s been a surreal week. An unwitting victim of his teammates’ efforts to help him, he lost his Chase bid after driving the last two weeks with two broken bones in his wrist and a cast on his right arm.
“All I did the last two weeks was drive my heart out,” he said Friday. “I went from feeling like I really climbed a mountain in that race at Richmond to going to be knocked out of the Chase.”
“I’m not even sure what to say at this point. I’m kind of at a loss for words,” Truex said. “How they make a spot for somebody _ they kick me out to make a spot for somebody and then they don’t do the same for the other guys? It’s just unfair and nothing I can do about it.”
Truex is out as punishment for his teammates’ working so hard to help him get in, and NASCAR will hold a mandatory team and driver meeting Saturday to clarify “the rules of the road” moving forward. France would not specify what won’t be tolerated going forward.
“Obviously we drew a line with the penalties with Michael Waltrip Racing,” France said. “We’re going to make sure that we have the right rules going forward, so that the integrity of the competitive landscape of the events are not altered in a way or manipulated.”
The entire mess began a mere seven laps from the finish Saturday night with Newman en route to a victory that would have given him the final spot in the Chase. MWR driver Clint Bowyer spun, bringing out a caution and setting in motion a chain of events that cost Newman the win and a Chase berth.
It later became clear that Bowyer’s spin was deliberate _ although NASCAR has said it can’t prove that _ and that Bowyer and teammate Brian Vickers allowed Logano to gain late finishing positions to bump Gordon out of the Chase to aid Truex.
Among the penalties levied against MWR was a $300,000 fine and the indefinite suspension of general manager Ty Norris. Bowyer, Truex and Brian Vickers were docked 50 points each, and their crew chiefs were placed on probation through the end of the year.
Bowyer has denied the spin was deliberate. NASCAR could only prove one action _ radio communication between Norris and Vickers in which a confused Vickers was told to pit as the field went green with three laps to go.