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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Appeal by Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing will fall on deaf ears

Appealing a penalty to NASCAR is like appealing a death row sentence.

Sure, there is a small chance the state will give you a break and let you just get a life term, or maybe even free you on a technicality ... but you know deep down when you head to court that neither is a likely outcome.

Such is the case of Clint Bowyer, who went from hero (and 2nd in points) to zero (12th in points) after his car just barely failed inspection after he won the Cup race to kick off the Chase at New Hampshire. (Curiously, he keeps the win ... a rule I have always found strange. If he loses points due to the car being illegal, why does the win stay on his record?)

Both Bowyer and team owner Richard Childress insisted at Dover that they did not have a cheating car at New Hampshire. They said they had checked the car several times to be sure, after being warned the previous week at Richmond about a close inspection, and the car's inspection failure was caused to the tow truck pushing it to Victory Lane.

That may be a nice story that is square in their eyes, but good luck trying to get NASCAR to reverse the ruling based on that claim ... it ain't gonna happen.
In order for a ruling to be overturned, there must be proof. Going back to our original analogy, if a smoking gun shows up with someone else's fingerprints on it, the man in prison who was falsely accused of murder can be set free.

In Bowyer's case, there is no smoking gun proving the tow truck did it. It's RCR's word vs. NASCAR's word, and we all know who wins those kind of arguments -- the people making the rules.

What NASCAR will say to RCR at the appeal is simple: If your car is so close to failing inspection that a little bump from a tow truck will cause it to fail, you are too close to begin with ... and they will be right.

The Chase has gotten pretty intense this year .. and if you didn't know that from the start, you certainly got an idea from all the infighting between Denny Hamlin and RCR this weekend.

Everyone wants to topple Jimmie Johnson (who, you might notice, is being smart and avoiding all this fighting so he can focus on winning a fifth title), and will do everything they can to achieve that goal .. perhaps even push things to the border of cheating.

But after Bowyer's penalty, which will most certainly be upheld if history is any indicator, you can bet a few teams are taking pause when the time comes to decide how close to the limit they want to push things.

The risk vs. reward equation just got a little more complicated, because even if their gamble leads them to win a race, they still might lose in the end -- as Bowyer's adventure has shown them.

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