Hot 20 over the past 10 – Newman gets justice while Gordon will have to rely on vengeance

Sometime over the next ten weeks, at one of ten tracks hosting the Chase, Clint Bowyer will be sailing along. He will feel a sudden nudge in his left rear quarter-final, just a touch but enough to cause him to feel the car getting out from under him. Bowyer will try to save it, and come close in doing so but, alas, his car will find the wall. His race and his Chase hopes, done in an instant.

Over the car radio we will hear Jeff Gordon, “I did not mean to do that; I sure hate it.” Then silence, at least over the air waves, as laughter explodes from behind the wall, just beyond the #24 pit box and spotter’s stand. High above the track, Mike Helton will look on, a hint of a smile appearing behind that bushy mustache. He will know, just as was the case with Bowyer at Richmond, that he will not have definitive proof that Gordon did anything intentional. No doubt just a racing deal. Just like Bowyer. Then, all will be right with the world.

Bowyer was not penalized for intentionally spinning out to cause that late caution at Richmond. Not enough definitive proof, though enough to tarnish the reputation of the personable driver for the foreseeable future among fans. No, this was not an individual penalty, but one aimed at an entire organization for attempting to manipulate the outcome of an event and the standings to benefit one of their own. A $300,000 fine to Michael Waltrip Racing, a indefinite suspension of General Manager Ty Norris, 50 point penalties to each of the organization’s cars and drivers, and probation for all three of its crew chiefs.

In order for Martin Truex Jr to make the Chase, Ryan Newman could not win and Joey Logano had to claim a Top Ten spot in the standings in order to keep him out of the wild card scenario. When a startled Brian Vickers was ordered to the pits, just before the re-start, in order to allow Logano to move ahead of him on the track, combined with Bowyer’s dawdling on pit road to do the same, the proof was there. Logano made it, taking Jeff Gordon out of the Chase and allowing Truex to slip into the final wild card position.

At least until the penalties. They dropped Truex behind Newman in points, so Newman takes over that position. Logano was simply a pawn, so there was no reason to sanction him. Other than to invent a rule to award Gordon an extra Chase place, NASCAR’s hands were tied. Bowyer gets penalized from his season total, which will not affect his Chase standing going in. He was going to be tied for 8th at Chicago, penalty or no penalty. Where is the justice, you might ask. For Gordon, the best he can do is discover an itch in his hot car, just enough for him to need to scratch it, sometime over the next few weeks as his right front fender nears Bowyer’s left rear quarter-panel. We know it could happen. We have all already seen it.

As they enter the Chase, five race winner Matt Kenseth takes a three point lead over Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch in to Chicago.  The leader has been as hot as Johnson has not, as of late, but Rowdy is the one to watch. He has won there, while Kevin Harvick has done so twice. While they have not yet claimed a victory at the track, the two we will be watching who have the best average finish at Chicagoland are Johnson and Bowyer.  Ironically, Gordon owns a piece of one of those cars and would like just a piece of the other.


Name Points Pos LW Rank W T5 T10
  Kyle Busch  350 1 2 (2) 2 4 6
  Kurt Busch  337 2 1 (8) 0 4 7
  Matt Kenseth  326 3 7 (1) 2 3 5
  Jamie McMurray  326 4 9 (14) 0 2 3
  Ryan Newman  323 5 8 (8) 1 4 5
  Kevin Harvick  318 6 5 (4) 0 2 5
  Joey Logano  312 7 3 (6) 1 4 7
  Jeff Gordon  309 8 6 (13) 0 1 7
  Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  302 9 10 (8) 0 1 5
  Kasey Kahne  294 10 11 (8) 1 3 5
  Carl Edwards  294 11 14 (4) 1 2 4
  Juan Pablo Montoya  285 12 17 (19) 0 2 4
  Greg Biffle  280 13 15 (6) 0 0 3
  Jimmie Johnson  268 14 13 (2) 1 2 5
  Brad Keselowski  266 15 18 (15) 0 2 3
  Marcos Ambrose  258 16 16 (21) 0 0 2
  Paul Menard  253 17 19 (16) 0 2 3
  Clint Bowyer  251 18 4 (8) 0 3 4
  Martin Truex, Jr.  238 19 12 (17) 0 2 4
  Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.  238 20 22 (20) 0 0 1
  Aric Almirola  236 21 20 (18) 0 1 1

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


  1. Now we can email Pennzoil also and tell them they are dealing with cheaters. Oh well, Penske probably owns 51 %of their stock, so I guess that won’t happen.

  2. They are taking serious look into MRW to see if they want to sponsor Michael for the future. This is Napa all so Clint 5 hour energy if thy want to go on sponsoring Clint. Now a new shake up to do with David Gilliland and Joey L. over their radio communication NASCAR is looking into that. This might just maybe get Jeff back into the chase I hope it does.

  3. People forget that 24 manipulated Phoenix last year. He wrecked the 15 on purpose, as well as two or three other drivers. He manipulated the outcome for those drivers. So no I don’t feel sorry for 24. They’re not innocent. He tries to take out 15, he may be forced into early retirement.

  4. I was a Truex fan and Bowyer fan until Saturday night and what they done or were involved with will ruin the sport.
    Vickers also.MWR should be banned till the end of the year

  5. Does anyone really think that NASCAR is going to allow this to happen?

    First time Jeff “nudges” Bowyer, and MWR car will probably “nudge” JJ, Jr. or KK.

    I’d love to be a fly on the Wall at the Driver meeting in at Chicgo. I’m quite sure that Mike Helton will remind the drivers and their teams that they need NASCAR a lot more than NASCAR needs them.

    NASCAR isn’t going to allow an on track war between the teams. They’re just simply not going to allow it.

  6. No, all will not be right with the world. Bowyer is still in the chase and lost nothing for his part in the cheating. 24 belongs in the chase as an “accomodation” by NA$CAR, but I doubt they will have the guts to do it.

    My personal goal is to keep telling the MWR sponsors that they are cheaters and that their sponsorship money has helped pay the fines. They should change to honest teams that need sponsorship, and we can all name a few.


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