NASCAR’s appeals board, made up of Waddel Wilson (former engine builder and crew chief for Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip among others), former driber Lyn St. James, and former USAC Chariman John Capels, denied Richard Childress Racing’s appeal of penalties levied after the Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire on September 19th. It was the expected outcome as only 10 of the 132 appeals aired in the last decade have been overturned. Childress has difiantly vowed to fight on.
After the decision was rendered, Childress made a formal request to appeal the boards decision to John Middlebrook, a former General Motors executive and NASCAR’s appellate officer. You have to wonder why. Isn’t it obvious by how these decisions have gone over the years that it’s probably a waste of time? Maybe Childress thinks that a former GM executive will overturn a penalty against a Chevrolet team, one that has carried the company banner for so many years. Maybe he’s just trying to protect his driver. Regardless, it seems like it may throw off the team’s chances for a championship, given the other distraction of the past week–the mini fued between Childress driver Kevin Harvick and current points leader Denny Hamlin.
Bowyer and his RCR team were penalized last Wednesday, three days after his win in the opening race for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. The victory ended an 88-race winless streak and pushed Bowyer from 12th to second in the standings, 35 points behind Hamlin. The penalties put Bowyer in 12th place, 235 points behind. It also left Bowyer without a crew chief for most of the Chase.
The crux of RCR’s argument is the violation occurred when Bowyer ran out of gas at the end of the New Hampshire race, a tow truck had to push him to Victory Lane and the contact caused the damage that contributed to a failed inspection.
Childress brought an accident reconstruction specialist to the hearing, but Dr. Charles Manning of Accident Reconstruction Analysis in Raleigh said the three-member appeals panel was not interested in his presentation. Manning used a similar tow truck pushing another Cup car as the basis for his testimony.
In this writer’s opinion, it would better serve Childress and his three drivers to concentrate on the final eight races this season rather than continue to create a distraction that might cost them the title anyway. One thing is certain, the whole garage will be interested in the outcome, since this is the first such appeal Middlebrook has heard and the the decision will effect the standings dramatically.
No timetable was given for Middlebrook’s decision, but Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice-president of competition, speculated that a decsion could come down early next week. In the meantime, the Chase teams will race at Kansas and not know where they stand in the championship standings until after the appeal.