NASCAR levied $300,000 in fines against the Michael Waltrip Racing – the largest total in the sport’s history. It also deducted 50 points each from Bryan Vickers, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
“I read the fines and penalites and then I looked at the points, and I was like ‘what the hell?’ Dale Earnhardt Jr. said in Chicago at NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Media Day this afternoon.
They also docked Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Bryan Vickers 50 points, costing Truex his spot in the Chase, and allowing Ryan Newman in.
The docking of points dropped Bowyer from second to seventh.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is just as popular, actually more so, than Jimmie Johnson. However, unlike JJ, who’s almost always a boring, cliche soundbite, Junior talks to the media with candor. He was his usual candid self today. Earlier, he said that this kind of manipulation races was really quite common. He even mentioned a couple ways that it’s done.
Most of the questions to Dale Earnardt Jr. were about Saturday night and Clint Bowyer’s “accidental” spin out.There was some chicanery here surrounding all this, and it’s been topic one in the auto racing world all week.
“I think there’s a million things you could have differently and I don’t know if they (NASCAR) did the right thing. You got to sit back and think about why they made the decisions they made (on MWR Racing) and how the penalties affect certain drivers, and see what their logic is. And I don’t think I’ve gone through that process. I got to sit down and think of why they choose to do it, they way they did it,” Earnhardt said.
In 2001, Michael Waltrip won the Daytona 500, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second. That was also the tragic race which sadly took the life of Dale Earnhardt Sr on the final lap. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was also former teammates with Martin Truex Jr. at DEI (Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, Senior’s company)
Back to Junior’s take on the MWR ruling:
“I feel bad for Martin, he probably had no idea what was going on, and you feel bad for Jeff because he worked his way to get into a position, and I feel bad for Clint, I know Clint and know what kind of person he is.”
“I think if you do it (manipulating races) again, you’re asking for it. I think they actually got off easy, as far as the fines and penalties. Especially Clint, he’s relatively unaffected. I think if you did it again, then you’re really going to be asking for trouble,” Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener is at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet on Sunday, Sept. 15 (1 p.m. CDT, ESPN).
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and Facebook.