The National Stock Car Racing Commission heard Richard Childress Racing's appeal of the Clint Bowyer penalty on Wednesday at NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.
The appeals board was made up of three impartial people from the racing world who are rotated through various hearings. Today, the board was made up of John Capels (former USAC officials), Lyn St. James (former IndyCar driver) and Waddell Wilson (former NASCAR engine builder/crew chief).
On Wednesday evening, the appeals board issued the following statement to explain what happened in the hearing and why it denied RCR's appeal:
On September 29, 2010, the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel heard and considered the appeal of Richard Childress Racing regarding four penalties issued by NASCAR relative to the #33 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. This stemmed from post-race inspection following a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Raceway on September 21, 2010.
The penalties concern Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book "Actions detrimental to stock car racing."; Section 12-4-J: "Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR Rules"; and Section 20-3: "The car body location specifications in reference to the certified chassis does not meet the NASCAR-approved specifications."
The penalties assessed were:
• Loss of 150 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner points for owner, Richard Childress
• Loss of 150 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver points for driver, Clint Bowyer
• $150,000 fine; suspension from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until November 3, 2010; and probation until December 31, 2010 for crew chief Shane Wilson
• Suspension from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until November 3, 2010; and probation until December 31, 2010 for crew member Chad Haney
The Appellants requested and were granted a deferral of the suspensions and fine until such time as this hearing could be convened.
The Appellants did not contest that the car measured out of specifications upon inspection.
The Appellants argued that, having received a warning about the car body of the #33 car being "too close" following the Richmond race, that it was inconceivable that they would bring a non-conforming car to New Hampshire.
They argued that the left rear frame member was actually bent upward as a result of the car being pushed towards Victory Lane by a wrecker after the post-race burnouts, which resulted in the left rear measurement "hard point" being too high. To this end, they also presented an accident reconstruction specialist to demonstrate that a wrecker might bend up the left rear strut in the trunk under certain conditions. The specialists, however, indicated that such an occurrence would strictly affect the left rear because of the match-up between the wrecker pushbar and the angle of the racecar's rear bumper. He went on to say that the corresponding right rear measurements should not be affected, in his view, nor the frame member deformed as a team representative had alleged.
The Appellants also contested the severity and timing of the penalty.
Claims that the wrecker caused the infraction were negated by the telemetry from the car which did not show a sharp impact spike; by the fact that the rear template still fit snugly across the entire rear of the car; by a visual inspection of the rear of the car which showed nothing of note in the way of damage; and a visual review of the videotape of post race assistance tendered by the wrecker which appeared as relatively gentle pushing.
Of significance to the Panel were some additional facts which came to light during the hearing. Particularly of note were the facts that both rear hard points, left and right, were high, and that the rear of the body was offset on the frame.
The Panel found that the penalties were consistent for infractions of this magnitude.
Therefore, it is the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel to uphold the original penalties.
The periods of suspension shall be adjusted from the date of the hearing.
The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer. The Appellants submitted such a request and the fee immediately after the conclusion of the hearing.