CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Newman is replacing Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship as part of NASCAR’S penalties against Michael Waltrip Racing for manipulating the outcome of last weekend’s race at Richmond.
Two people familiar with the situation independently described the penalties to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because NASCAR had yet to announce its decision. The governing body scheduled a news conference for Monday night.
Michael Waltrip Racing has been fined $300,000, and general manager Ty Norris is suspended indefinitely. Truex, Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers have been docked 50 points apiece.
Newman was leading with seven laps remaining Saturday night at Richmond, where a victory would have given him the final spot in the 12-driver Chase field. But Bowyer spun and out came a caution, setting in motion a chain of events that ultimately led to Newman losing the race and Bowyer teammate Truex earning the final Chase berth.
While examining the situation, NASCAR reviewed communication between Bowyer and his Michael Waltrip Racing crew that seemed to indicate the spin was deliberate, as well as additional evidence that suggested MWR had Bowyer and Vickers take a dive over the final three laps so Joey Logano would knock Gordon out of Chase contention in yet another attempt to help Truex.
Bowyer has denied he intentionally spun and Truex was an unwitting participant. There’s been silence from MWR officials, manufacturer Toyota and sponsors 5-Hour Energy (Bowyer) and NAPA Auto Parts (Truex), which pay millions to fund the race programs and likely owe MWR bonuses for each driver making the Chase.
The controversy surrounding Saturday’s race put a damper on Newman’s Monday announcement that he had reached a deal with Richard Childress Racing to replace Jeff Burton next season in the No. 31 Chevrolet.
“What happened to me Saturday night is the toughest thing that I’ve ever gone through in any kind of racing in my 30 years of driving because of the way everything went down,” Newman said. “I knew this announcement was coming, but in the end, I don’t think it’s anything to compare or contrast or say that the positive outweighs the negative or even compensates for it.”
Now Newman gets the chance to compete for the title in his final races with Stewart-Haas Racing. He won the Brickyard this year and has 17 career victories overall.