The controversy began brewing even before the winner of Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup series Federated Auto Parts 400 had pulled into victory lane, because more was on the line than just another race win. The 12 driver field was set for the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. While six drivers came in locked in and at least two others knowing that simply finishing would get them in, several spots were up for grabs.
Joey Logano and Jeff Gordon were battling for a spot while Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman were also contesting a spot.
A caution with seven laps to go set up a final three lap dash. It not only decided a winner, Carl Edwards, but sealed the fate of Gordon and Newman. Both of whom fell short of making the Chase.
The caution was set off by a Clint Bowyer who spun along the frontstretch. 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.
"Thirty-nine (Newman) is going to win the race," Bowyer is told.
"Well, that kind of sucks," Bowyer replied.
"Is your arm starting to hurt?" crew chief Brian Pattie asked. He then added, "I bet it's hot in there. Itch it."
Shortly after Bowyer's Toyota spun.
Just prior to the spin Newman was leading the race. After the caution Newman was third, and that’s where he finished. With one win apiece on the season, Truex won the tiebreaker and took the final Wild Card spot
Dale Earnhardt Jr. who was directly behind Bowyer seemed dumbfounded.
“He just spun right out,” Earnhardt said. “That's the craziest thing I ever saw. He just came right around. He got ‑‑ we were going into, through 3 and 4, and I don't know if they can put up his brakes and his gas. We got all the technology. But he was hemming around on the brakes and jerking the car around, and then the thing just spun out. It was crazy. I don't know what was going on. It was right there, I almost run into it, so I'm glad we were able to get out of there without any trouble.”
Bowyer put part of the blame for the spin on Earnhardt.
"We had a flat tire or something -- we went from leading the race and got back there,” Bowyer said. “I got down in there and it kept getting tighter and tighter and tighter and then the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) got in there and by the time I got back in the gas, he got into me and I had so much wheel in it that it snapped around.”
Newman however put the blame for losing spots during the final stop on his pit crew.
“Winning would have changed everything and that last caution definitely hurt us, but we got killed on pit road, there's no doubt about that,” Newman said. “We should have been able to come off pit road first and come off pit road first if we were a championship contending team. We needed a championship contending pit crew, and we didn't have that tonight.”
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: NASCAR penalizes Michael Waltrip Racing; Newman in, Truex out of Chase