Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Dale Jr. (or even Junior if you will) said “this isn’t the first time it’s happened,” in reference to Michael Waltrip Racing trying to manipulate a race.
“I don’t think we need to beat on Clint (Bowyer) and MWR too much because it’s been done before,” Dale Jr. said in Chicago at NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Media Day this afternoon.
Dale Jr. was answering questions from reporters on Saturday night and Clint Bowyer’s “accidental” spin out. After Bowyer spun out, NASCAR threw a caution and race leader Ryan Newman lost his lead after pitting. There were a few other hijinks surrounding all of this, but I’m not going to get into any more detail because it’s what everyone in the auto racing world has been talking about all week.
So you know what happened.
Dale Jr. on NASCAR drivers creating cautions to alter the race, and how it’s done:
“It doesn’t happen every race, and maybe not every year, it’s a bit of a product of the Chase. The idea of doing that is commonplace and has happened in years past, and drivers like myself have created cautions, we’ve thrown stuff out of cars and spun cars out and what have you to get cautions for certain reasons, and it’s nothing new,” he said.
What about the integrity of NASCAR in regards to this common practice?
“I think the integrity is in tact completely, and I wouldn’t question it going forward, I’m not worried about the races being on the up-and-up, and everything’s going to be fine, we’re going to have good races in the Chase,” he said.
Dale Jr. races for button-upped (and often publicly quite vanilla) Hendrick Motorsports, but today he kept true to his usual self- a man that tells it like it is. He gave a very colorful response to questions about how NASCAR handled the penalties and fines.
NASCAR levied $300,000 in fines against MWR- the largest total in the league’s history. They also docked Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Bryan Vickers 50 points, costing Truex his spot in the Chase, and allowing Newman in.
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.