Report: Ryan Newman to Replace Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase
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According to the report, NASCAR decided to penalize Truex after reviewing footage from this past weekend's race in Richmond, as well as in-car audio between Clint Bowyer and his crew.
The incident in question came with seven laps remaining in Sunday's race. At the time, Ryan Newman had just taken the lead and with the win would have become the second wild card into the Chase, eliminating Bowyer's teammate Truex.
A caution came out when the No. 15 car of Bowyer spun out. Based on the in-car audio reviewed by NASCAR, they determined that Bowyer intentionally brought out the caution to manipulate the outcome of the race and help get Truex into the Chase.
The report also states that Michael Waltrip Racing had its two drivers Bowyer and Brian Vickers intentionally drop back in the final three laps to let Joey Logano pass them, which gave him the 10th spot in the standings over Jeff Gordon, ultimately handing the wild card berth to Truex.
NASCAR has docked all three MWR teams' 50 championship points and fined the organization $300,000.
Newman, who had just been announced as the new driver of the No. 31 car for Richard Childress Racing earlier in the day, will now be one of the 12 drivers eligible for the series championship.
According to Ed Hinton of ESPN.com, Newman had this to say about the Richmond incident earlier in the day:
Right now it's tough to comment on it because I know it's being reviewed. But I do know that based on my opinion inside a race car, and watching [video of the incident] and listening [to recorded radio conversation between Bowyer and his crew] and understanding the communication that there was then, it was not entirely an accident.
NASCAR officials will hold a news conference Monday evening to officially announce the decision. Fryer reported to yahoo.com that NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said via a press release:
As the sport's sanctioning body, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a fair and level playing field for all of our competitors and this action today reflects our commitment to that.
The announcement comes as teams are preparing for the first event of the 10-race playoff this weekend in Chicago.
Obviously, we're very pleased with NASCAR's decision to provide Ryan Newman's rightful place in this year's Chase. NASCAR was put in a very difficult position Saturday night at Richmond and we commend the sanctioning body for taking the time to do the necessary due diligence to ensure that the right call was made.
Bowyer has vehemently denied the allegations for his part in the incident to intentionally bring out the caution flag.
As of Fryer's report, no one from MWR has made any comments regarding NASCAR's decision.
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