Many have already forgot that Carl Edwards won the race last Saturday night in Richmond. Edwards came out ahead in the final laps, but the real winners and losers were determined by NASCAR penalties handed down on Monday night.
The controversy started with seven laps to go and Ryan Newman leading the race. In-car audio makes some believe that Clint Bowyer spun his car intentionally causing the caution to come out. Newman and others came to pit road to get tires.
Paul Menard and Edwards won the race off pit road and pulled away on the green with Edwards winning easily. Kurt Busch finished second, followed by Newman, Jamie McMurray, Menard and Matt Kenseth.
Right before the green flag, Brian Vickers of Michael Waltrip Racing, was also called to pit road to give up a spot that Martin Truex Jr. needed. Waltrip has since admitted this was true, but still denies that Bowyer was involved in any wrong doing.
Truex was able to hold off Jeff Gordon putting Truex in the chase. Truex claimed the second wild-card spot, and also kept Gordon from climbing into the top 10 in points, which allowed Joey Logano to hang onto 10th in the standing and make the Chase for the first time.
This all changed on Monday, when NASCAR brought the hammer down on Michael Waltrip Racing. Their three teams (#15, #55, #56) were penalized with the loss of 50 championship driver and 50 championship owner points, respectively.
These point penalties were assessed following the seasons 26th regular season race and not after the seeding for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Therefore, the point total for the #56 car driven by Martin Truex Jr. was reduced to 691, putting him in 17th position and eliminating him from the second Wild Card berth for the Chase field.
Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 car, moved up into the Chase as the second Wild Card participant.
NASCAR also fined the MWR organization $300,000 and indefinitely suspended Ty Norris, MWR Executive Vice President/General Manager and spotter for the #55 car, for violating Section 12-4.
The three crew chiefs (Brian Pattie (#15), Scott Miller (#55) and Chad Johnston (#56)) have all been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. NASCAR sent a message and were not pleased with the actions of Waltrips team.
Just out recently is that Penske Racing cut a deal with Front Row Motorsports, to allow Logano to take the final spot away from Jeff Gordon. NASCAR has yet to make any final decisions on that, but it looks like none are likely.
*** Chase Begins ***
So with all this going on, there will be a race in Chicago this weekend to open the chase. Jimmie Johnson will try and prove that all the issues are in the past and his team will be championship focused to win his sixth.
Matt Kenseth has been consistent all year, and Carl Edwards may be peaking at just the right time. I actually like Kyle Busch to win his first title this year, with Edwards finishing in the runner-up spot like a few years ago.