?After the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway Sunday, NASCAR took the cars of #48-Johnson, #24-Gordon, and #33-Bowyer back to the R&D Center for further inspection. In addition, the engines of #48-Johnson, #31-Burton, #2-Busch, #99-Edwards, and #18-Busch were taken as follow up to dyno tests conducted after the Michigan race.?
On any race weekend NASCAR inspects every car a minimum of three times. Once before the first practice, again before the car goes out to qualify, and a third time on race morning before the car is positioned on the starting grid.
NASCAR then inspects the top five finishing cars and one more chosen at random at the race track each week immediately after the race. In addition, it is normal procedure for NASCAR to take the race winning car and at least one other car also chosen at random back to their Research & Development Center in Charlotte, NC. This is where they have the fixtures necessary to make a more thorough inspection of the body and how it is positioned on the chassis.
It was this, much more exacting inspection, that resulted in Clint Bowyer?s Loudon winning car to be found illegal, three days after it was cleared at the track (and declared legal) when he won the first Chase race at New Hampshire. The resulting 150 point penalty moved Bowyer from second down to 12th in the standings and, realistically, out of any chance to win the Championship.
The body of the 33 car was supposedly .060? out of tolerance. If you have a quarter in your pocket, take it out and see how thick it is. Your quarter is .004? THICKER than Boyer?s car was out of spec!
Can a race car body that is sixty thousandths of an inch from where it should be really make much of a difference in that car?s performance? Denny Hamlin thinks it does and he basically called Bowyer?s RCR team out in the media center at Dover this past weekend. Hamlin suggested that instead of trying to cheat that those guys should just ?. . . be happy they?re in the Chase at all.?
This didn?t sit too well with Bowyer?s teammate Kevin Harvick and he let Hamlin know by slamming his car as the two took to the track for the first practice session at Dover. That led to a war of words in the garage area and set up the scenario where many people expected there would be some sort of retaliation against Hamlin during the race.
That never materialized and Hamlin, in spite of finishing ninth, (His best finish ever at Dover.) held on to a slim points lead after the first two Chase races.
But what about next week? With the news of NASCAR taking hostages in the form of the 48, 24, and 33 cars, and the engines from 31, 2, 99, and 18, what can we expect as the Chase continues? Could this lead to NASCAR taking all 12 Chase cars back to the R&D center EVERY week? Shouldn?t the next Sprint Cup Champion be determined on the race track instead of behind the closed doors of the NASCAR Tech Center?
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