Wednesday, 11 September 2013

MWR hit with record fine amidst race fixing claims

Michael Waltrip Racing have been hit with a record $300,000 fine after it was alleged that the team manipulated the outcome of the chase deciding race at Richmond last weekend.

In addition to the fine, all three of MWR's entries have been docked 50 driver and 50 owner points and indefinitely suspended Ty Norris, Executive Vice President and General Manager of MWR as well as the spotter for the No. 55 car. The crew chiefs of the #15, #55 and #56 cars have also been placed on probation until the end of the year.

Suspicions were first raised when Clint Bowyer spun, moments after being told to 'itch' his arm over the radio. The spin brought out a caution and ruined Ryan Newman's chances of getting into the Chase. Newman had been competing with Bowyer's MWR team mate Martin Truex Jr. for the final wildcard spot in the Chase.

Brian Vickers was also asked to make an unscheduled pitstop, much to his surprise. According to NASCAR it was this, not Bowyer's spin that led to the penalties.

Radio communication between Vickers and his crew chief revealed that Vickers was unaware of a need to pit before being told 'I'll see you after the race, Brian. I owe you a kiss' - hinting that'd he'd played a part in a more elaborate plan.

However team founder and co-owner Michael Watrip insists that there was no plan after coming out in defence of his team on Twitter after the ruling had been made official.

'This wasn't a master plan or about a spin. It's about a split-second decision made by Ty to try to help a teammate. I stand by my people.' said the 50 year old on the social networking site. 

He was remorseful of his teams actions though, but continued to stand by them when speaking to FOX television 'We’re not immoral. We’re not irresponsible,' Waltrip said. 'Decisions were made just based on circumstances. And as we look back obviously we would have been smarter and done things differently had we had that option.'

The penalties in the end knocked Truex Jr. out of the chase, relegating him to 17th in the overall standings, Ryan Newman takes his place. Clint Bowyer is unaffected by the points deduction as it is applied to post chase points. With having no wins, his Chase position hasn't changed.

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