Clint Bowyer left Chicagoland Speedway 15th in the point standings, but NASCAR handed down penalties late Wednesday for the #15 Toyota, Bowyer was docked 25 points from the team dropping him to 16th in the Chase standings. Along with the points NASCAR suspended Billy W. Scott, his Michael Waltrip Racing crew chief, for three races for an illegal suspension found during Friday’s pre-qualifying inspections conducted at Chicagoland for the MyAFibRisk.com 400. Scott also received a $75,000 fine as part of the discipline and put on probation for six months.
Rob Kauffman, the owner of the #15 Toyota for MWR, was docked 25 Sprint Cup Series Championship owner points along with Bowyer’s deduction in points and Scott’s suspension and monetary penalty. MWR will appeal the penalty, and NASCAR has asked that the appeal process, from the National Motorsports Appeals Panel, be expedited because of the potential impact to the team during the Chase.
“Michael Waltrip Racing respectfully disagrees with today’s penalties and plans to immediately appeal,” the team said in a statement. “MWR has made mistakes in the past, but we feel we are correct in this instance.”
“We look forward to the opportunity to present our case to the appeals committee and have no further public comment until the process is completed.”
NASCAR issued the P4 penalty, on a P1-P6 scale with P6 being the most severe, for a violation of the rule that forbids washers or other components that allow movement of certain track bar joints or mounting bolts. This would allow the rear-end suspension components to move and would allow the car to handle better in the corners.
Without a win for the 2015 season, it doesn’t look promising for Bowyer looking forward to Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. On a positive note Bowyer is one of only three drivers, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman being the other two, to have won the fall race multiple times, in 2007 and 2010.
Only two races remain in the Challenger Round, this weekend at NHMS and Dover International Raceway, before the Chase field gets cut from 16 drivers to 12 for the Contender Round. Bowyer currently sits 31 points behind the current 12th place driver Jeff Gordon. Regardless of the appeals process findings Bowyer will need to win one of the next two Sprint Cup races, or be one of the top 12 in points following Dover in order to advance in the Chase.
MWR currently fields two teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the #15 Toyota of Bowyer and the #55 Toyota of David Ragan. This year the team owners made the announcement earlier that Bowyer had been granted a release following the ’15 season and that the organization will not field full-time teams beyond this year.
Besides Bowyer, Danica Patrick’s crew chief Daniel Knost and car chief Pete White, for the #10 Chevrolet, were put on probation for having the right side quarter panel behind the rear wheel modified during qualifying inspection.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series Chase continues with qualifying from New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Sylvania 300, Friday with coverage on NBCSP at 4:30 p.m. ET. Race coverage will be televised Sunday, Sept. 27, on NBCSP beginning at 2 p.m. ET.