It's never good news when a large bureaucratic body takes an intense interest in your affairs. The IRS doesn't stop by just to chat, you know. Now, Clint Bowyer is about to find out what it's like to get up close and personal with the NASCAR machine, as NASCAR officials have announced they are taking a closer look at the car Bowyer piloted to victory in Loudon. Citing two sources, AP/Yahoo! Sports writer Jenna Fryer noted that NASCAR inspectors initially passed the car, but discovered more issues during a more intensive inspection.
At the race, Bowyer's car was as dominant as we've seen all season; check the chart here. He never dropped lower than fifth place except during pit cycling, and even that decline was only momentary. This is not at all to presume guilt; plenty of cars have run setups this year that have helped them roll to powerful victories. But Bowyer ran so far above his norm that he obviously raised a few eyebrows.
Compounding the issue is the fact that Bowyer's 33 from Richmond, the race where he clinched the 12th spot in the Chase, was selected for random inspection and found to be very, very close to NASCAR tolerances. While we're very much advocates of the right-up-to-the-line school of engineering, we have to admit: once is an anomaly, twice starts to set off a few alarms.
So what could happen here? As Fryer notes, NASCAR generally doesn't strip drivers of wins. And since we're already in the Chase, there are no bonus points in play. But a points deduction is a distinct possibility.
Back in March 2008, Carl Edwards won Vegas, but postrace inspection found that an oil lid was "off." NASCAR let him keep the win, but slapped him with a 100-point penalty. If a similar hammer were dropped on Bowyer, he'd fall to 11th place, just one point ahead of Matt Kenseth in Dead Freakin' Last. And that would be that for his Chase hopes.
More, obviously, as it develops.