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Clint Bowyer apologizes, admits no guilt from Richmond race

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2013
Chase seedings
Driver Points
1. Matt Kenseth2,015
2. Jimmie Johnson2,012
3. Kyle Busch2,012
4. Kevin Harvick2,006
5. Carl Edwards2,006
6. Joey Logano2,003
7. Greg Biffle2,003
8. Clint Bowyer2,000
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.2,000
10. Kurt Busch2,000
11. Kasey Kahne2,000
12. Ryan Newman2,000

A day after NASCAR handed down the largest monetary fine in the sport’s history and a slew of penalties that shuffled the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup, little remained resolved in the eyes of many fans and several participants.

NASCAR’s decision to fine Michael Waltrip Racing $300,000 and dock each of its drivers 50 points for attempting to manipulate the outcome of Saturday night’s race at Richmond, Va., clearly benefited Ryan Newman, who now is in the Chase.

Jeff Gordon, also affectedby the actions of MWR’s teams during the final laps but left out of the Chase, was not pleased. Gordon expressed his displeasure in Twitter posts Monday night.

Gordon was more taken aback by NASCAR’s unwillingness to penalize driver Clint Bowyer, whose spin with seven laps left Saturday launched the investigation.

The points Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers all lost were from their pre-Chase totals. Bowyer’s championship chances will not be affected by Monday’s decision.

Gordon’s team owner, Rick Hendrick, was succinct in his feelings.

“Jeff Gordon got robbed,” Hendrick said in a brief text message to the Observer. “On to the Chase and try to win it.”

Bowyer spent much of Tuesday afternoon in Bristol, Conn., taking part in a series of interviews at ESPN headquarters.

Throughout the afternoon, Bowyer profusely apologized to Newman and NASCAR fans but repeatedly evaded answering direct questions about whether he was a willing participant in the manipulation.

Asked specifically if his apology to Newman was an admission of guilt, Bowyer replied, “Let’s not dig too much into this.”

That nearly was identical to the response he gave reporters after Saturday night’s race about whether he intentionally spun to cause a caution.

During an interview Tuesday with SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie, claimed he and Bowyer did nothing wrong.

“It is what it is. I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to swallow a little bit, to be honest, you know, for not doing anything wrong and getting put on probation and stuff,” Pattie said.

“But NASCAR did what they thought was right, gave us fines and penalties, and we took them on the chin and we’re moving forward, getting ready for the Chase and starting in Chicago.”

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