Did Bowyer Spin the Truth?
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on September 8, 2013 | 12:01 A.M. EST
Ryan Newman led and was in position to take the final Wild Card spot - keeping Truex out of the Chase - when Bowyer spun along the frontstretch to create a caution seven laps from the finish. (Photo: Getty Images)
RICHMOND, Va. - Clint Bowyer blamed his late-race spin on an ill-handling car and not because he was trying to help teammate Martin Truex Jr. make the Chase.
Ryan Newman led and was in position to take the final Wild Card spot - keeping Truex out of the Chase - when Bowyer spun along the frontstretch to create a caution seven laps from the finish.
The caution sent the leaders to pit road. Newman lost his lead and finished third. Truex placed seventh. They both finished with 741 points, but Truex earned the Chase spot through a tiebreaker.
NASCAR breaks ties based on finishes beginning with first-place results. Since Truex and Newman each had one win, NASCAR had to go to runner-up finishes to break the tie. Truex placed second at Texas. Newman didn’t have a second-place finish this season, giving Truex the final Wild Card spot.
Still, questions persisted about Bowyer’s actions and how it changed the race and the teams in the Chase.
“They are teammates,’’ Newman said. “I don’t know if (Bowyer) looked at the scoring pylon, knew I was leading. It doesn’t matter. If that was the case, I’ll find out one way or another. At the same time, we still had an opportunity to make our own destiny and win it on pit road and we didn’t. That being said, we’re out.’’
Bowyer said he was trying to hold on to his car.
“I think we had something going wrong,’’ he said. “We went from a car capable of winning the race, leading, to ... straight backwards. Extremely tight, tighter, tighter, tighter, tighter, tighter, tighter. (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) got up underneath of me and I had so much wheel in it, by the time I got on the gas, he was up underneath me and I spun out. Trust me, I would have much rather been winning the race and been over in Victory Lane and then (in the media center) bummed out. Extremely bummed with the outcome of the race and more bummed once you get out you realize there was implications.’’
ESPN played in-car audio of Bowyer’s radio channel in which he was told Newman was leading shortly before his spin.
"(Newman) is going to win the race,'' spotter Brett Griffin told Bowyer.
A win by Newman would have kept Truex from making the Chase.
About 30 seconds later, crew chief Brian Pattie asked Bowyer: "Is your arm starting to hurt? I bet it's hot in there. Itch it.''
Said Bowyer: "Oh yeah.''
About 10 seconds later, Bowyer was told Earnhardt is with him and then spins.
“My car was tight as hell,’’ Bowyer said when asked about the radio conversation. “(Jimmie Johnson) blew a tire and hit the wall. I'm telling you, I was the next one. That thing slid, what, maybe less than 10 feet and blew out. Something was going on there.
“It's unfortunate. I know it's a lot of fun for you guys to write a lot of whacky things. Go ahead if you want to, get creative. But don't look too much into it.’’
Earnhardt was surprised at what he saw from Bowyer’s car.
“He just spun right out,’’ Earnhardt said. “That's the craziest thing I ever saw. He just came right around. We were going into (Turns) 3 and 4, and I don't know if they can put up his brakes and his gas - we got all the technology - but he was hemming around on the brakes and jerking the car around, and then the thing just spun out. It was crazy. I don't know what was going on. It was right there, I almost run into it, so I'm glad we were able to get out of there without any trouble.’’