Quarter for thoughts

Bowyer's major punishment for mini-infraction isn't fair

September 30, 2010|By George Diaz

Full disclosure: I have no horse in the NASCAR Chase for the Championship. Flip a coin, doesn't matter. OK, maybe I wouldn't be so despondent if Jimmie Johnson finished second or worse. The guy is fabulous. Maybe it's time to let somebody else get a sip of that victory champagne.

But I would like a moment of silence for Clint Bowyer.

His Chase for the title is now a death march, thanks to one of those typical, inexplicable NASCAR decisions where common sense goes flying out the window.

Bowyer got docked 150 points because his car didn't pass the post-race inspection at New Hampshire. That was after the car did pass inspection at New Hampshire. And so thanks to revisionist history, Bowyer is eliminated from contention.

Confused? You should be.

"The car passed pre- and post-race inspection, and three days later got such a huge fine?" Bowyer said during a media session at Dover International Speedway last week. "They take the car apart, completely apart, to measure this thing and in my opinion that's not the way the car was raced on the race track."

Bowyer suspects that a two-ton wrecker that pushed the car to Victory Lane is the culprit that made the height of the left quarter panel 60-thousandths of an inch outside the tolerance levels NASCAR allows. If the margin of error is that slight, you have to wonder how many other cars would have flunked inspection if they had been hauled off to NASCAR's research and development center.

"I don't think the penalty fits the crime," Bowyer said. "Sixty-thousandths of an inch, folks.

"Grab a quarter out of your pocket (at this point he held up a quarter). That's 65-thousandths of an inch thick. Less than the thickness of that quarter right there resulted in a 150-point fine.

"Before or after this, grab that and ask yourself if that was a performance-enhancing thing right there."

Bowyer has a right to be peeved.

After finishing 25th in Sunday's race at Dover, Bowyer is 235 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.

He is toast.

But he has one last shot to get back in the game Wednesday when he will appeal the decision before a three-member panel.

The Richard Childress Racing team will ask that the penalties be dropped and for Bowyer's 150 points to be restored.

I doubt this will happen.

But it should.

Full disclosure: On this day at least, I will be pulling for Clint Bowyer.

gdiaz@tribune.com

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