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From The Marbles

NASCAR penalizes Michael Waltrip Racing for Richmond actions; Ryan Newman now in the Chase, Martin Truex Jr. out

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

NASCAR moved Ryan Newman into the Chase for the Sprint Cup and Martin Truex Jr. out after investigating the final laps of Saturday night's race at Richmond.

Truex and teammates Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers received 50 point penalties. The penalties are as follows:

MWR was found to have violated Section 12-4 (Actions detrimental to stock car racing). As a result, MWR’s three teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (No. 15, 55, 56) have been penalized with the loss of 50 championship driver and 50 championship owner points, respectively.

These point penalties are assessed following the season’s 26th regular season race and not after the seeding for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Therefore, the point total for the No. 56 car driven by Martin Truex Jr. is 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 No. 39 car, now moves up into the Chase as the second Wild Card participant.

[Related: NAPA launching review of Michael Waltrip Racing sponsorship]

During the final laps at Richmond, Bowyer spun and caused a late caution while Ryan Newman was leading. If Newman had won, he would have gotten a Wild Card seed over Bowyer's teammate Martin Truex Jr. After pitting, Newman re-entered the track in fifth during the caution and finished third. Truex got the second Wild Card on a tiebreaker with Newman.

"Based upon our review of Saturday night’s race at Richmond, it is our determination that the MWR organization attempted to manipulate the outcome of the race," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said in the release. "As the sport’s sanctioning body, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a fair and level playing field for all of our competitors and this action today reflects our commitment to that."

The Chase is NASCAR's 10 race playoff amongst 12 drivers. Until Monday, NASCAR has never issued penalties that have affected the composition of the Chase field since the Chase's inception in 2004.

It's also important to note that Bowyer's 50 point deduction does not affect his Chase total -- so in essence, it's an empty points penalty. He will still start the Chase in 7th place with 2000 points. Matt Kenseth is the top seed with 2015 points.

[Watch: One-on-one with Dale Earnhardt Jr.]

Jeff Gordon was also affected by the MWR maneuver, as Bowyer and Brian Vickers, who was in the No. 55, slowed down over the last few laps to ensure that Joey Logano got ahead of them. That moved Gordon from 10th place and a guaranteed spot in the Chase to 11th place. Gordon was ineligible for a Wild Card because he didn't have a win while Logano would have gotten a Wild Card over Truex by virtue of his win at Michigan. However, Gordon is still out of the Chase.

Michael Waltrip Racing was also fined $300,000 and director of competition Ty Norris was also suspended indefinitely. Crew chiefs Chad Johnston (Truex), Brian Pattie (Bowyer) and Scott Miller (Vickers) were placed on probation until the end of the year.

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