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Bowyer angry at steep NASCAR penalties
It takes a lot to piss off happy-go-lucky Clint Bowyer.
On Friday, he was still reeling from the 150-point penalty NASCAR served the No. 33 team Wednesday after his winning New Hampshire car failed inspection once it returned to the sanctioning body's R&D Center in Concord, N.C.
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"I don't think the punishment fits the crime," Bowyer said. "Sixty-thousandths of an inch, folks. Grab a quarter out of your pocket (presents a quarter). That's sixty-thousandths of an inch thick. Less than the thickness of that quarter right there resulted in a 150-point fine. Before or after this, grab that and ask yourself if that was a performance-enhancing thing right there."
Since NASCAR wouldn't enter into specifics regarding the infraction other than to say in a release, "the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules (section 20-3)" -- specifically noting that "car body location specifications in reference to the certified chassis did not meet approved specifications of the 2010 rule book" -- it would be inaccurate to speculate whether an advantage could be gleaned.
When pressed on the exact details of the violation during Wednesday's teleconference, Sprint Cup Series director John Darby simply stated, "Our teams do have the ability to proceed with an appeal, so to really get into some of the actual specific measurements of the car and car numbers I don't think would be fair to either the RCR group or NASCAR itself, so I'll decline from that."
Richard Childress Racing's director competition Scott Miller followed suit.
"I can't discuss that until after the appeal," Miller said.
Denny Hamlin, who currently leads the points standings, couldn't wait to cast doubt on his competitor.
"It's not two weeks old," Hamlin said. "This is something that's been going on for months. They've been warned for a long time — way before Richmond. This is not something that, 'Oh man, they just told us half-way after Richmond and going into Loudon that that car's wrong'. They knew it was wrong way before that and I felt like they just wanted to get everything they could. What did they have to lose really?"
A NASCAR official familiar with the situation debunked Hamlin's earlier statement claiming that the No. 33 has been under scrutiny "for months". The source said Bowyer's car had been to the R&D Center three times (Indy, Richmond and Loudon) and any instance of impropriety only arose in the last two weeks. The source supported an earlier statement made by NASCAR VP of competition Robin Pemberton, "Other RCR cars have been through here, have passed their post-race inspections. We haven't seen (the same) problem."
Richard Childress defended his organization's integrity on Friday and insisted that after the No. 33 team was warned following Richmond "not to bring the car back" and that NASCAR "were going to look at the car after New Hampshire" that the organization "wouldn't be … dumb enough, stupid enough to bring a car to the race track that we know is out of the tolerances".
Childress maintains that the investment in time, technology and personnel are the reasons the company has made the significant gains over the last year not because of anything untoward.
"I'm going to look anybody in the eye because I know what we did," Childress said. "I know what we've done to get us here and we haven't cheated to get here."
FORDS TAME THE MONSTER
Fords have traditionally been fast at Dover International Speedway and Friday was no exception.
Four Fords qualified in the top 10 for Sunday's AAA 400 including AJ Allmendinger (155.642mph), who will start on the front row with polesitter Jimmie Johnson (155.736mph).
For Allmedinger, it was a career-best qualifying effort on the one-mile high-banked oval.
"I'm just proud of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports and the Roush Yates engine shop," Allmendinger said. "We've got great horsepower and everybody has just been doing a great job over the last month. It's been a pleasure to feel like we're building again and getting better. It's a great effort from everybody and I'm just proud."
Robbie Loomis, director of racing operations for RPM, has seen tremendous growth in Allmendinger over the last year.
"He's really starting to get it as a driver," Loomis said. "There's no one as passionate as he is about racing. And since the communication end of the equation is now coming together, I think the team will continue to grow."
Fellow Fords Greg Biffle (sixth), Paul Menard (ninth) and Carl Edwards (10th) rounded out the top 10.
Mark Martin will carry a sponsor new to NASCAR at Martinsville Speedway next month -- eBay Motors.
"It's really great because times are tough right now and what a great company that reaches so many people," Martin said of eBay. "We were excited that Quaker State stepped up for next year and to have eBay for Martinsville and we're working on having them be a part of our program going forward.
"We're not seeing other people do that (bring in new sponsors). Considering that we've had a tough spell it's nice to see people have confidence in what we do. I think we‘ve turned a corner and hope we can keep moving in that direction."
The deal with eBay was brokered for Hendrick Motorsports by Andrew Campagnone, vice president Motorsports Wunderman Charlotte.
JV RETURNING TO STOCKS?
Former Formula One champ Jacques Villeneuve is contemplating a return to NASCAR -- perhaps as a team owner.
Although it was recently reported that Villeneuve was interested in purchasing a F1 team, he told www.ruefrontenac.com his group has "not submitted a formal offer".
"As the timing is not as critical as the one imposed by the FIA when we were working on getting the 13th franchise, we can take the time to evaluate all our options before making a final decision," Villeneuve added in the report. "We are especially looking at how much of the funding earmarked to get the F-1 team going could be transferred to North America in order to build a NASCAR program."
Villeneuve, 39, has made four starts between the Sprint Cup and Nationwide tours this season. His best finish was third last month at his home track Montreal.
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