Clint Bowyer’s Chase hopes took a massive hit on Wednesday when his team was charged with a P4 penalty from NASCAR. The penalty docked 25 points from the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 15 team and wiping away any progress made in Chicagoland.
Crew chief Billy W. Scott was also fined $75,000 along with a three-race suspension and probation for six months. Car owner Rob Kauffman, who is departing for Chip Ganassi Racing after this season, was also penalized 25 owner points.
According to the NASCAR rule book, Bowyer’s team violated a rule that prohibits beveled washers and/or other components that allow track bar movement under load. It’s a seemingly harmless violation, but one that could mean the end for MWR’s Chase hopes.
Bowyer is now down to 2000 points, the exact same total he had when the Chase for the Sprint Cup started. He is now nine points behind Kevin Harvick, who now has his hopes renewed for passing just three drivers to keep moving forward after a wreck in Chicago.
MWR released the following statement about the penalty from NASCAR:
Michael Waltrip Racing respectfully disagrees with today’s penalties and plans to immediately appeal. MWR has made mistakes in the past, but we feel we are correct in this instance. We look forward to the opportunity to present our case to the appeals committee and have no further public comment until the process is completed.
This is just the latest penalty for MWR after a massive hit back in 2013 when Martin Truex Jr. was held out of the Chase for an incident at Richmond. In the final full-time season for Michael Waltrip Racing, its championship hopes are likely finished again unless Bowyer somehow pulls out a win at New Hampshire or Dover.
Along with Bowyer, Danica Patrick’s No. 10 team was also penalized on Wednesday. Crew chief Daniel Knost was placed on probation for the rest of the year for the P2 penalty when the right side quarter panel behind the rear wheel/tire was modified during pre-qualifying inspection.