Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Richard Childress prepares one final appeal, to keep alive Clint Bowyer's title bid, but not much optimism

 Richard Childress: the battle ahead? Or is it all over but the shouting? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   KANSAS CITY, Kansas
   So Clint Bowyer is guilty....
   Well, that's what NASCAR's appeals panel declared Wednesday afternoon: that his Loudon-winning car was illegal.
   Looks like Bowyer was driving a car with an off-set chassis, designed to help it go through the corners faster.
   But, no, runner-up Denny Hamlin doesn't get the win. Bowyer still keeps the win, and the championship death penalty -- losing 150 points.
   Team owner Richard Childress, who mounted a three-hour defense, complete with an accident reconstruction expert, says he'll appeal to the sport's final arbitrar, John Middlebrook.
   However, Childress concedes the guilty verdict – that Bowyer's Loudon-winner car was illegal – was just what he expected from the NASCAR board.
   There is still a lot of mystery surrounding this entire controversy.
   First off – it shouldn't take three days after the race to determine if the car was legal or illegal. That in itself may be the biggest issue here – NASCAR's corps of inspectors and all those body templates and other inspection devices ought to be able to determine by Sunday evening, after three days of at-track inspections, that all 43 cars in the race are legal or not.
   NASCAR's own credibility may be on trial here.
   That's only part of the problem here, though.
   NASCAR has managed to open its championship playoffs with a pair of dud events, at least in the eyes of the TV audience: the New Hampshire pulled a dismal 2.3 rating, and the Dover race Sunday pulled a very disappointing 2.4 rating.
   That's right. A 2.3 for the first race of the chase – down significantly from last year's not very impressive 3.2 at New Hampshire. And a 2.4 for the second race of the chase – again, down significantly from last year's not very impressive 3.1 at Dover.
   To make it clearly, that's a 25 percent drop-off in NASCAR playoff ratings.
   To put the numbers in some perspective, Fox' spring NASCAR tour averages about eight million TV viewers each Sunday. But the first two championship races this season drew less than four million viewers each.

  NASCAR inspectors have a lot of high-tech tools they use at each track....so it shouldn't take three days to determine if a car is legal or not (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   And there's more to this situation.
   Jack Roush is right. Bowyer's case should have been heard by a jury of peers, not a NASCAR picked court.
   That's the only way for NASCAR to establish any credibility in this quasi-judicial system.
   Yes, NASCAR, under George Silbermann, has done a good job the last few years of legitimatizing the appeals process.
   Still...this appeals board – USAC-er John Capels, former Indy-car racer Lyn St James, and legendary engine man Waddell Wilson – would seem rather far removed from the sport of NASCAR racing today, by many, many years.
   Not that a panel of peers wouldn't have handed the down the same penalty, but NASCAR needs more legitimacy and more transparency.
   For example, why can't these appeals hearings be open to the public? What is there to hide?
   Doesn't the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says 'the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury'?
   NASCAR of course is free to make whatever rules it wants and enforce them any way it likes.
   But the jurors on the court of public opinion may not be buying all this stuff.
   Certainly this sport doesn't need all this bad pub.
   Maybe it's time NASCAR created a Director of Common Sense, to weigh in on some of this.
   Regardless, the way it now stands, Bowyer's loss of 150 points, the $150,000 fine, the six-race suspension for crew chief Shane Wilson and car chief Chad Haney will stand, unless Middlebrook rules otherwise. (The suspensions won't begin until Middlebrook has his say, probably within the next week, before the tour reaches California's Auto Club Speedway.)
   Childress didn't argue that Bowyer's car "measured out of specifications upon (post-race) inspection."
   What Childress did argue was that "the left rear frame member was actually bent upward as a result of the car being pushed towards victory lane by a wrecker after the post-race burnouts, which resulted in the left rear measurement 'hard point' being too high."
   The NASCAR court heard a presentation by an accident reconstruction specialist, who showed how a wrecker might well bend up the left rear strut in the trunk under certain conditions.
   However NASCAR, in its own part of the case, said that "telemetry from the car...did not show a sharp impact spike," and pointed out "the rear template still fit snugly across the entire rear of the car," and that "a visual inspection of the rear of the car...showed nothing of note in the way of damage, and that "a visual review of the videotape of post-race assistance...by the wrecker...appeared as relatively gentle pushing."
    NASCAR also pointed to the court that "the rear of the body was offset on the frame."
   Childress himself said "I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision, knowing how the appeal system is structured.
   "We proved beyond a reasonable doubt how the car was found to be out of tolerance after the race.
    "Knowing how the system works, I brought a check with me to cover the cost of the appeal hearing, and we have already submitted our request to appeal to the chief appellate officer.
    "That being said, we will not let this be a distraction to the primary goal of one of our teams winning the Sprint Cup Series championship. We owe it to our fans and our sponsors to stay focused and bring the championship back to RCR."


   Car owner Richard Childress (white shirt), surrounded his three championship contending drivers, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com