Michael Waltrip said Tuesday he was not the mastermind of a conspiracy plan to manipulate Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway and get his driver Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“We didn’t go into that race with a plan of helping Martin get into the Chase,” the team owner said in an interview with the television network FOX Sports 1. “Now, we certainly as things developed understood where we stood, and we knew that we needed that point. But we didn’t have this complex plan about how we were going to manipulate the race to get Martin in.”
In an interview earlier Tuesday on ESPN, Bowyer denied looping his No. 15 car intentionally, although the driver running right behind him at the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr., contended over the radio that he had done just that, and the spin came after radio communication informing Bowyer that Newman was about on his way to winning the race, which would have clinched a Wild Card berth for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.
“I stand behind my driver,” said Waltrip, who is also an employee of FOX television. “NASCAR looked at the situation, they didn’t think He spun on purpose. So I have reason to believe that’s the case.”
After the penalties were levied Monday night, NASCAR President Mike Helton said the sanctioning body had found no indication that Bowyer’s spin was intentional. The most damning piece of evidence in NASCAR’s eyes, he added, was the radio communication in the final laps between Norris and Vickers -- in which the driver of the No. 55 car seemed surprised at a sudden and unforeseen instruction to pit.
“It was impossible to defend, because we did it,” Waltrip said. “But the caution was out, and Ty was looking at the numbers, and it was like, ‘Pit, pit, we need that position.’
“We pitted. If I had been standing beside Ty at that moment, I don’t know that I would have done it any differently. I’m afraid I wouldn’t of. Because we’ve seen people give up positions all the time in this sport to give a teammate a point. It happens. We’ve seen the leader pull over so another guy can lead. I would have screwed that one up too … and we’d have been in the same situation. It never, I don’t think, directly affected such an important event. So therefore, I get it. I understand.”
But entering Richmond with the intention of using two of his drivers to help a third get into the Chase? In his eyes, that’s something else entirely.
“We’re not immoral. We’re not irresponsible,” Waltrip said. “Decisions were made just based on circumstances. And as we look back obviously we would have been smarter and done things differently had we had that option.”
"That's why it's so hurtful when people you respect and you know in the industry are so mean. People that know me know I take stuff personally. I act like I'm always in a good mood when I'm not, but it's my job. It's been hard.
"I just hate people questioning who I am, because I know who I am and my daughters know who I am and they still love me, so we'll get through it."
- NASCAR.com News
- NASCAR.com News