NASCAR has the controversy it wanted for the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup: The Curious Case of Clint Bowyer.
Bowyer was penalized 150 points, and his crew chief, Shane Wilson, was suspended for six weeks due to Bowyer’s car not meeting specifications after it won the Chase-opening Sylvania 300 on Sept. 19 at New Hampshire. Team owner Richard Childress appealed the penalties because he said either taps from drivers congratulating Bowyer on his victory lap or the wrecker that pushed his car into Victory Lane knocked the back end 60-thousandths of an inch out of whack. RC said he’ll take the case all the way to the NASCAR commissioner, whomever that is.
That all came down Wednesday. Fast-forward two days, and this soap opera is getting sudsier by the hour.
Drivers met the press today at Dover, site this Sunday of the second race of the Chase. (Loudon, N.H., and Dover, Del. — two chic media capitals to start a big-time postseason, eh? But that’s the topic for another blog entry.) Bowyer lobbed the opening grenade by making an impassioned defense of himself and his team. Here’s the full transcript.
Safe to say, Clint is pissed. He thinks NASCAR put his entire team into the hardware department — it’s getting screwed.
But that was just the beginning. Points leader Denny Hamlin countered by saying NASCAR had warned Bowyer and his team earlier this season about tip-toeing much too closely to the edge of the rulebook. While Hamlin was convinced Bowyer’s claims of innocence were bunk, four-time reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson proclaimed apathy.
Once he learned of Hamlin’s barrage, Childress counter-punched with a jab instead of a one-two series of hooks.
Ah, this is getting juicy. But remember, there is a race this Sunday at the Monster Mile. What’s that? Oh, yeah, the race! All Left Turns handicaps the AAA 400, making a good point that Johnson is on thin ice after just one race in the Chase as he attempts to complete his drive for five.
The build-up to the IZOD IndyCar Series finale Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami continues, without the melodrama of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Paul Dalbey and Steph Wallcraft at More Front Wing take an interesting point-counterpoint approach to the Clash of the Titans for the title between points leader Will Power and Dario Franchitti.
I have two wishes for the race at Homestead: One, Will and Dario battle for the title down to the last lap, just like Scott Dixon and Franchitti did in 2007 and 2009, with Dario becoming champion both years. Two, KV Racing Technology puts all of its chassis back on the truck in one piece.
It’s been a rough season for KV, which must have platinum card status with Dallara. You also hope the team has accident forgiveness insurance with Allstate. Some cruel or clever dude — take your pick — has put together this compilation of the team’s troubles this year on YouTube:
Ouch. You really have to feel for team owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser and for drivers Takuma Sato, E.J. Viso and Mario Moraes. And for sections of concrete wall all over North America.
While there’s still a superb current championship race in the IZOD IndyCar Series, there’s also a lot of attention on the future in that series. The new schedule for 2011, the new chassis and engine package in 2012 and future sources of talent behind the wheel.
Robin Miller of SPEED writes that USAC drivers, who got a foot back into the Indy door during the early years of the IRL, might have a smoother path back to the Brickyard in an open-wheel car if series boss Randy Bernard has his way. One of those potential USAC drivers to jump into the Road to Indy system could be Shannon McIntosh, who continues her driver diary at Pop Off Valve.
But the always interesting Tony Johns at Pop Off Valve insists that everyone in IndyCar needs to let go of the past if the series is to progress. No, he’s not talking about the ebbing acrimony of The Split. He’s talking about everyone’s insistence that it’s vital that progeny of the great names of the past are in cars and the persistent belief that IndyCar keeps a firm grasp on its past glory days.
MotoGP is off this weekend, but its feuds are brewing almost like those in NASCAR Sprint Cup. There’s already a cold front coming through the Repsol Honda organization, whipping up a storm between those who support incumbent Dani Pedrosa and those who back the incoming Casey Stoner. Hate to say I told you so, but I predicted this coming snit fit a week ago. Dani and Casey certainly aren’t the Captain & Tennille or Peaches and Herb.
With new 1000cc bikes coming to MotoGP in 2012, many suspected that Aprilia was using its Superbike World Championship program as a warm-up act for a return to the premier class of worldwide motorcycle racing. Balderdash, says Aprilia.
It’s not like the Italian marque set the world on fire when it was in MotoGP in 2003. Oh, wait, it did: Just ask American Colin Edwards. His Aprilia mysteriously burst into flame while he was riding it at 125 mph at the German Grand Prix in one of the indelible images of the 2003 season.
That was Colin’s first MotoGP season. It’s amazing he even wanted to return in 2004 after riding that flaming piece of turd.
Formula One is taking its nightclub on wheels under the lights this weekend at Singapore, where the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber ruled the first practice. Like IndyCar, F1 is another series that doesn’t need a postseason to create a good title race. Just 24 points separate leader Webber from fifth-place Vettel, with Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button forming a triple burger with cheese between them.
Hmm. Anyone ever wonder that maybe the points system in NASCAR is broken and needs fixing? Just sayin’, as people in the Midwest are wont to say.
The controversy over which team will use the famed Lotus name next season is over: Lotus will remain Lotus. God, I feel better now. Don’t you? As I said before, it’s a moot point. The current F1 car is not a Lotus. This is a real Lotus.