- Clint Bowyer’s late spin at Richmond in 2013 led to race-fixing accusations and an episode that would appear to be acknowledged as “Spingate,” a enormous incident that would guide to many suspensions.
- Michael Waltrip Racing was hit with a NASCAR-record $300,000 good, the dissolution of a significant sponsorship and other lesser sponsorships.
- In the long run, it was a spinout that led to the closure of Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR).
A person of the strangest and most controversial episodes in NASCAR’s 75 several years of existence occurred in the course of what at first experienced all the trappings of a typical NASCAR Cup race, the Federated Vehicle Sections 400, on Sept. 7, 2013 at Richmond Global Raceway.
The episode would appear to be identified as “Spingate,” a massive incident that would lead to a number of suspensions, a NASCAR-record $300,000 fantastic, the dissolution of a significant sponsorship and other smaller sized sponsorships and, in the end, the eventual closure of Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR).
The race was the final qualifying occasion for the 10-race 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs. And all hell seemingly broke loose in the closing laps when NASCAR alleged MWR, Staff Penske and Entrance Row Motorsports experienced colluded to manipulate how certain drivers and teams concluded.
The largest incident included MWR. Driver Clint Bowyer, in collusion with his crew main, intentionally spun with a lot less than 10 laps remaining to deliver out a warning flag, followed by teammate Brian Vickers pitting on the ensuing restart that would ultimately make it possible for the 3rd MWR driver, Martin Truex Jr., to qualify for the playoffs, knocking out Ryan Newman from playoff qualifying.
There was a secondary incident that was of a lesser importance, when Team Penske’s Joey Logano handed fellow Ford driver, Front Row’s David Gilliland, late in the race, providing Logano a certain berth in the playoffs, knocking out Jeff Gordon.
Or so it appeared.
In addition to docking Truex 50 driver points just after the race, knocking him out of the playoffs and providing the spot back to Newman, NASCAR also manufactured an unprecedented move by offering Gordon a 13th playoff spot—the only time the area has been intentionally expanded in the now 19-year record of the Cup playoffs (Notice: The sanctioning overall body expanded the all round playoff discipline from 12 to 16 motorists in 2014).
Bowyer’s spin with eight laps to go eventually led to substantial grousing between opposing teams, and soon after NASCAR reviewed video clip and in-car audio from the race, it was ultimately found out Bowyer’s actions have been intentional so that Truex would make the playoffs.
Bowyer pleaded his case that he had a flat tire and that’s what induced him to spin, but NASCAR wasn’t acquiring any of it. Perhaps the most damning element of the incident was Bowyer’s dialogue with crew chief Brian Pattie on the group radio, which NASCAR in the end believed to be a sign that led to staff orders and the eventual spin.
Evidence integrated a curious audio transmission that came above the radio from the pits just in advance of the spin: “Is your arm starting off to damage? Need to be warm in there.”
Also, NASCAR questioned an additional group radio exchange among Vickers and his spotter, MWR normal manager and vice president Ty Norris, who ordered Vickers to make a environmentally friendly-flag pit halt with 3 laps still left, thus giving Truex an opportunity to obtain one additional position in the discipline, thus assuring his place in the playoffs.
Two days afterwards, on Sept. 9, MWR was fined a NASCAR record $300,000 for the spin and the ensuing try to manipulate the conclude of the race. In addition, Norris was suspended, all a few MWR crew chiefs ended up put on probation for the remainder of the 12 months, and Bowyer, Truex and Vickers have been just about every docked 50 points, knocking Truex out of the playoffs.
But it obtained even worse: all 3 MWR automobiles were docked 50 proprietor factors each individual, various of the organization’s sponsors—including key sponsor NAPA Automobile Parts—abruptly reduce ties with the corporation and MWR would only final two far more seasons prior to it would shut its doorways for great, ending just one of the most uncomfortable episodes in the sport’s background.
Ironically ample, however, workforce patriarch Michael Waltrip would in the end wind up little worse for the use, sooner or later becoming a member of Fox Sports’ NASCAR broadcast team and primary to what turned a preferred function in advance of just about every of the 16 Cup races Fox would air every single period, particularly, Waltrip’s infamous “Grid Stroll.”
Follow Autoweek correspondent Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski