Concord, NC (Sports Network) - Ryan Newman will replace Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship after NASCAR handed down severe penalties to Michael Waltrip Racing on Monday for its actions this past weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
NASCAR officials reviewed the closing laps of Saturday's night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond and determined that the MWR organization "attempted to manipulate the outcome of the race." The sanctioning body concluded that Clint Bowyer, the driver of the No. 15 car for MWR, intentionally spun to force a caution with seven laps to go. Newman was leading the race at the time, in hopes of clinching a spot in the Chase.
There had been speculation the past two days that Bowyer purposely spun out to help Truex, his MWR teammate, get a position in the Chase. Newman ended up finishing third after he gave up the top spot due to a slow pit stop during the caution. Newman had lost out on the final wild card in a points tiebreaker with Martin Truex Jr., who finished eighth.
According to NASCAR, MWR was found to have violated Section 12-4 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the rule book. MWR's three Sprint Cup teams -- the No. 15 (Bowyer), 56 (Truex) and 55 (Brian Vickers) -- have been penalized with a loss of 50 championship driver and 50 championship owner points.
The point penalties for the MWR teams are assessed following the 26th and final race of the regular season (the Chase cutoff) at Richmond and not after the seeding for the Chase. The point total for Truex has been reduced to 691, putting him 17th in the standings and eliminating him from the second wild card spot in the 12-driver Chase field. Newman, who is in his final season as driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, moved up to the final wild card participant.
"Based upon our review of Saturday night's race at Richmond, it is our determination that the MWR organization attempted to manipulate the outcome of the race," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said. "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."
NASCAR also fined the racing organization $300,000 and indefinitely suspended Ty Norris, who is MWR's executive vice president and general manager as well as the spotter for No. 55 car. MWR's three crew chiefs -- Brian Pattie (No. 15), Scott Miller (55) and Chad Johnston (56) -- have all been placed on probation for the remainder of the year.