At this point, it may seem like were kind of beating a dead horse, so to speak, with this whole Michael Waltrip Racing, NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, who’s in and who’s not debacle that came out of Richmond (Va.) International Raceway earlier this month. But I guess it’s just one of those gifts that keep on giving, from a drama standpoint. It has definitely given NASCAR mainstream publicity — not good publicity, mind you — but publicity all the same.
But is some of this ire misdirected? When you think about it, it kind of is. Here’s an example. The National Enquirer — yes that gossip rag that I think only my grandmother has ever taken seriously — has weighed in, or at least they quoted country music superstar Blake Shelton weighing in.
According the The National Enquirer, and I can’t believe I’m using it as a source, Shelton tweeted, “I am so proud of my boy Clint Bowyer.” He also went on to tweet that Bowyer’s critics “can suck it.”
In appreciation, Bowyer tweeted back, “I’ll be turning all questions for today over to my new publicist,” referring to Shelton.”
Sure, I could have just looked up these tweets, myself, but it was brought to my attention by a tweeted link to the Enquirer article, and for whatever reason, I find using the Enquirer as a source at least somewhat amusing so I’m running with it.
Yes, Bowyer has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism from both media and fans the last couple of weeks, but what seems to be forgotten is that the spin in question isn’t why Michael Waltrip Racing is in trouble. The reason for the penalties that knocked Martin Truex Jr. out of the Chase was that call to bring Brian Vickers, unnecessarily down pit road. If I remember correctly, NASCAR stated that there was no conclusive evidence that Bowyer spun intentionally.
And then there’s Bowyer’s primary sponsor, 5-hour Energy, trying to put the blame for all of this on NASCAR by questioning NASCAR’s integrity. Here’s what 5-hour Energy President Scott Henderson recently said in a statement:
“I’ve got one thing I’ve got to say. There’s been a lot of talk about integrity. When the guy who is in charge can say, ‘I can do whatever I want, I’m going to do it and I just did it,’ I wonder about integrity. I’ve got to make sure we can win in this sport.”
Really, Mr. Henderson? Bowyer may not have a win, so far, this year, but I don’t think it has anything to do with a call by NASCAR. He’s won several times in the past, and if I’m not mistaken, he came close to winning it all last year, didn’t he? I really don’t think Henderson has anything to worry about in that regard.
Henderson’s statement stemmed from NASCAR adding a 13th driver, namely Jeff Gordon, to the Chase lineup. At that point, I’m not sure NASCAR had all that much of a choice in an attempt right all the wrong from Richmond.
I haven’t agreed with every decision NASCAR’s ever made, but if the sanctioning body had turned a blind eye to MWR’s actions at Richmond, wouldn’t it have seemed like NASCAR was stacking the deck in MWR’s favor and letting that organization get away with unsportsman-like behavior. The statement from 5-hour Energy just seems like “sour grapes” more than anything else, to me.
Intentional or not — and I’m going with intentional — yes, the spin is what initially brought on the investigation, so I guess, indirectly, it played a part in Truex being on the outside looking in and NAPA’s decision to cut ties with MWR, but people seem to be forgetting the primary culprit here. It seems like everybody’s forgetting the actual move that led to the penalties — the Vickers’ pit stop debacle.
A wrong is a wrong, and either way, Michael Waltrip Racing, specifically Truex, is paying the price. Again, I think Truex is an innocent casualty in all this mess, but that’s another subject for another time that I’ve already written about here. But when it comes to the blame game, while I think Bowyer was also in the wrong, I think a lot of people are forgetting why Truex is actually on the outside looking in. If I remember correctly, it has something to do with an ill-timed, unnecessary pit stop by another teammate.
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