"There's certain morals that are still involved with what you're comfortable doing and not comfortable doing, and it has an effect on far more people than we could ever understand. That's what I've really learned from this situation, is that it's way beyond me and you, it's way beyond the sport, it's way beyond the fans. It reaches out much further than that. And I think that's what's so important for NASCAR to work on maintaining. And also, us, as competitors, have a responsibility as well."
NASCAR took action this week against MWR, placing Newman in the Chase field and bumping Truex. It also fined MWR $300,000 and suspended general manager Ty Norris indefinitely. Bowyer, Truex and Brian Vickers, all MWR teammates, were docked 50 points each, and their crew chiefs were placed on probation through the end of the year.
Bowyer has denied the spin was deliberate. NASCAR could only prove one action — radio communication between Norris and Vickers in which a confused Vickers was told to pit as the field went green with three laps to go. The call was an effort to give Logano position on the track to pass Gordon in the standings and knock Gordon out of the Chase so that Truex could gain a wild-card berth.
But Bowyer wasn't really penalized — NASCAR said it couldn't prove his spin was intentional — and his 50 points were deducted before the seeding for the Chase. And Gordon felt that Bowyer also deserved to be punished for giving up late track position just as Vickers did.
"I thought (NASCAR) got it half-right," he said. "I think as competitors and some of the media understand that it looks pretty obvious what caused that caution, and it's pretty obvious that (Bowyer) came back down pit road, similar to what (Vickers) did. But yet that penalty really didn't affect (Bowyer). It did affect MWR. That was a huge penalty to MWR, and it's going to have consequences that go just beyond that penalty. In my opinion, it's going to affect them in the future.
"In that sense, I feel like the penalty was justified. But it really doesn't address what went on with (Bowyer)."
Now NASCAR must also think about how it will monitor teams working together on the track.
It's a tried-and-true practice in NASCAR, where teammates have long swapped position to allow a teammate — or even a driver from the same manufacturer — to lead a lap and earn a needed bonus point. Other lower-profile moves occur throughout the season.
On its face, what Vickers did Saturday didn't raise too many eyebrows. But NASCAR President Mike Helton said "the preponderance of things that happened by Michael Waltrip Racing Saturday night, the most clear was the direction that (Vickers) was given and the confusion around it," meaning Vickers' laying down for Logano was the smoking gun.
That could mean that Gilliland doing the same for Logano is a punishable offense and that NASCAR opened up a Pandora's box in singling out Vickers' trip down pit road as the punishable offense in the MWR actions at Richmond.
Kyle Busch, who goes into the Chase tied for second, believes teammates help one another on the track. A year ago at Richmond, Denny Hamlin pitted late to help Busch gain a position on the track. It wasn't enough as Busch still lost out on the Chase to Gordon.
"I say you do whatever you've got to do to get your team in," Busch said Wednesday at Dover. "If you're in that position and you have multi-team cars, that's what they're there for. Some people say I'm full of crap and you're not supposed to manipulate the end of the race. Just let it play out as it plays out. Let the best man win. But, I was in the same position last year. There were ways it could have been manipulated and I could have gotten myself in the Chase. But I didn't do it. And I missed the Chase."
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