Each year in the days leading up to the beginning of its version of the playoffs, NASCAR sends its 12 Chase drivers on a media blitz throughout the country.
This year Clint Bowyer was preselected to visit ESPN's Bristol campus where he would appear on SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and other auxiliary programming like NASCAR Now.
Unfortunately for Bowyer -- but good for viewers -- this comes in the aftermath of NASCAR slapping Michael Waltrip Racing with record fines for manipulating the finishing order at the conclusion of Saturday's race at Richmond. In-car audio and video strongly suggests Bowyer intentionally spun himself out to erase the lead held by Ryan Newman and to benefit MWR teammate Martin Truex Jr., an accusation Bowyer strongly denies.
In his initial appearance on SportsCenter Tuesday, Bowyer was interviewed by anchor Jade McCarthy and ESPN analyst and former NASCAR driver Ricky Craven, and the exchange could best be described as uncomfortable.
Bowyer clearly did not want to address the allegations while both McCarthy and Craven, to their credit, asked pointed and repeated questions without lobbing any softballs. Throughout, Bowyer kept saying he was sorry for what transpired, though he would not directly state what he was apologizing for and did not admit any wrongdoing.
When Bowyer mentioned the pressures of being in the Chase, Craven challenged Bowyer.
"You want to talk about pressure?" Craven said. "You look at the economy and the people that spend their hard-earned money to fly to Richmond, to buy a ticket, to participate in the weekend and they might have felt feeling like they got robbed. I'm only bringing up that point to suggest this is much bigger than any one of us.
"What happened Saturday night put into play the integrity of the sport. It bothered me a little bit when you said, ‘Let me tell you something, the pressure that's involved in the sport, you might not understand.'"
Bowyer responded by saying: "There's tons of pressure on the sport and there's tons of pressure on the drivers. I would think if anybody would know, it would be you. I apologize that you don't understand the pressure. It heats up in a big way in the Chase."