CHARLOTTE — A day after NASCAR handed down the largest monetary fine in the sports history and a slew of penalties that shuffled the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup, little remained resolved in the eyes of many fans and several participants.
NASCARs decision to fine Michael Waltrip Racing $300,000 and dock each of its drivers 50 points for attempting to manipulate the outcome of Saturday nights race at Richmond, Va., clearly benefited Ryan Newman, who now is in the Chase.
Jeff Gordon, also affectedby the actions of MWRs teams during the final laps but left out of the Chase, was not pleased. Gordon expressed his displeasure in Twitter posts Monday night.
Gordon was more taken aback by NASCARs unwillingness to penalize driver Clint Bowyer, whose spin with seven laps left Saturday launched the investigation.
The points Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers all lost were from their pre-Chase totals. Bowyers championship chances will not be affected by Mondays decision.
Gordons team owner, Rick Hendrick, was succinct in his feelings.
Jeff Gordon got robbed, Hendrick said in a brief text message to the Observer. On to the Chase and try to win it.
Bowyer spent much of Tuesday afternoon in Bristol, Conn., taking part in a series of interviews at ESPN headquarters.
Throughout the afternoon, Bowyer profusely apologized to Newman and NASCAR fans but repeatedly evaded answering direct questions about whether he was a willing participant in the manipulation.
Asked specifically if his apology to Newman was an admission of guilt, Bowyer replied, Lets not dig too much into this.
That nearly was identical to the response he gave reporters after Saturday nights race about whether he intentionally spun to cause a caution.
During an interview Tuesday with SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bowyers crew chief, Brian Pattie, claimed he and Bowyer did nothing wrong.
It is what it is. I dont know. Its kind of hard to swallow a little bit, to be honest, you know, for not doing anything wrong and getting put on probation and stuff, Pattie said.
But NASCAR did what they thought was right, gave us fines and penalties, and we took them on the chin and were moving forward, getting ready for the Chase and starting in Chicago.