I will admit that I am biased when it comes to Richard Childress Racing, having worked there for four years. My heart is still with those guys. I feel bad for what those guys have gone through since Loudon. With that said, though, I am not surprised that Richard’s appeal of the Clint Bowyer penalty was denied.
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I know the question still lingers of whether the wrecker at Loudon put that specific area on the car outside the tolerance allowed by NASCAR. One of the things that hurt their chances the most was the well-published reports that this No. 33 team was warned two or three times about their body-mounting measurements.
NASCAR has been adamant about trying to keep a level playing field and working to keep teams from getting out of control on this body like they did with the body on the prior car. Let’s face it — this is the first incident we have had in a long, long time with the body.
The last incident was with Red Bull Racing a long time ago, and it dealt with a sheet-metal issue. It appears that NASCAR has done a really good job of maintaining law and order with this body, plus it appears the teams have adhered to the mandate.
On the appeals committee was Lyn St. James, who has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in racing but not necessarily in NASCAR. What you get with her is that she can listen to the “common sense” factor of this whole appeal. Maybe she can’t delve knee deep into the technical side of it. Waddell Wilson, on the other hand, who was also on the three-member panel, is a long-time NASCAR fixture. He was a mechanic, crew chief and engine builder. He was the crew chief of the car that first went more than 200 mph at Talladega with Benny Parsons behind the wheel.
My point is that Waddell is probably better at absorbing the technical part of it than Lyn. Also on the panel was John Capels, former USAC chairman. I think it shows a good balance.
Richard Childress has already said he is going forward with the final step, which is to take the appeal to NASCAR’s chief appellate officer John Middlebrook. When you look at the severity of the penalty and what it did to the No. 33 team, Childress simply has to try.
The fact is, the penalty that was given the No. 33 car has made it no longer a factor in the 2010 Chase. That 150-point penalty all but killed any hopes that team had of being champions this year. Now, after Dover, they are 235 points behind. I am not saying it is insurmountable, but when you are 12th, that far back, you’ve lost your crew chief and have that many cars you have to get by with eight races to go, it’s pretty darn close to it.
This weekend we are at Kansas. It’s Clint’s home track. Scott Miller is probably going to take over as crew chief for the next six races while Shane Wilson serves his suspension. Miller has won races with Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton, so the team is fortunate to have depth. Now it’s time to pick up and move forward.
I support 100 percent NASCAR being consistent. I know fans out there struggle to understand how that small of a measurement could have caused a failed inspection. Like Clint pointed out, we are only talking the thickness of a quarter. I am not here to say it absolutely made a difference, and I am not ready to say it absolutely did not make a difference. I don’t know. I do know that sixty-thousandths of an inch was outside the tolerance that NASCAR already allowed.