Bitter disappointment Saturday night turned to pure joy Monday night for Ryan Newman. Only hours after he had announced that he would be joining Richard Childress Racing in 2013, Newman learned that NASCAR had issued penalties resulting from Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway. When the dust settled, Newman learned that he was now part of the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.
It all started with a caution with seven laps to go Saturday night that set up a final three lap dash. It not only decided a race winner, Carl Edwards, but sealed the fate of Jeff Gordon and Newman. Both of whom fell short of making the Chase.
The caution was set off by Michael Waltrip Racing driver Clint Bowyer who spun along the frontstretch while Newman was leading. A replay from Bowyer’s in-car camera that included the radio communication from his team of the final laps however showed what can only be termed as suspicious.
After the caution Newman was third, and that’s where he finished. With one win apiece on the season, MWR driver Martin Truex Jr. won the tiebreaker and took the final Wild Card spot. NASCAR reviewed the incident and found that Bowyer had intentionally spun. They penalized MWR’s three teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (No. 15, 55, 56) with the loss of 50 championship driver and 50 championship owner points. The cars were driven by Bowyer, Brian Vickers and Truex Jr. respectively.
The penalties were assessed following the season’s 26th regular season race and not after the seeding for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The point total for the No. 56 car driven by Truex Jr. was reduced to 691. That put him in 17th position and eliminated him from the second Wild Card berth for the Chase field. Newman moved up into the Chase as the second Wild Card participant.
Monday afternoon during a teleconference announcing his move to RCR, Newman was asked if he felt that based on what happened Saturday night, if NASCAR should be him into the Chase.
“I don't even want to really comment on that,” Newman said. “I just know that we were deserving of it at one point without a doubt Saturday night, and we put ourselves in that position. To me, there was nothing up to that point that would have changed that until Clint spun out and that changed everything.”
“There are so many things that we knew going into the race, could have, would have, should have, and the fact of the direct influence somebody could have by manipulating that situation, which I do feel happened,” he added. “But in the end, how NASCAR handles this is extremely important for all of us.”
Monday night NASCAR handled the situation and in the end Newman will be in this year’s Chase. After the penalties were issued, Newman issued a statement of his own.
“I am proud that NASCAR took a stand with respect to what went on Saturday night at Richmond,” Newman said in an email. “I know it was a tough decision to make. With that being said, myself, Matt Borland (crew chief) and this entire No. 39 team are looking forward to competing for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.”
Newman’s team owner Tony Stewart also weighed in.
“Obviously, we’re very pleased with NASCAR’s decision to provide Ryan Newman’s rightful place in this year’s Chase,” Stewart said. “NASCAR was put in a very difficult position Saturday night at Richmond and we commend the sanctioning body for taking the time to do the necessary due diligence to ensure that the right call was made.”