MWR can appeal the penalties, which included placing crew chiefs Brian Pattie (Bowyer), Scott Miller (Vickers) and Chad Johnston (Truex) on probation through the end of the year. While Norris can work through the appeal process if MWR chooses to appeal, it won’t change Truex’s status in the Chase.
In-car audio from Saturday night’s race framed the situation as Bowyer’s crew goading him into spinning his car to bring out the yellow in an effort to prevent Newman from winning.
“Thirty-nine is going to win the race,” Bowyer was told over his radio.
“Is your arm starting to hurt?” Pattie asked. After a pause, Pattie said, “I bet it’s hot in there. Itch it.”
Bowyer’s car then spun.
NASCAR did not have access to that footage until well after the race, and it was presumably among the materials that were reviewed before the punishment was announced.
Also, it became apparent early Sunday morning that Bowyer and Vickers further aided Truex by taking a dive over the final three laps.
When the race resumed with three laps to go, Gordon was poised to claim the 10th spot in the Chase, and Logano was ahead of Truex in position to claim the second wild card.
But Bowyer and Vickers both made pit stops in the final three laps that allowed Logano to improve his position and move ahead of Gordon. That bumped Gordon from contention and freed the wild card for Truex. Gordon was not eligible for the wild card.
The AP reviewed team communications for Bowyer and Vickers on Sunday, and Vickers was told by Norris to pit because “We need that one point.”
Helton indicated Monday that conversation between Norris and Vickers, with Vickers’ confusion over the directives he was given, was the smoking gun against MWR.