Let's face it - NASCAR's credibility is on the line. I won't take time here to review the chain-of-events that led to the controversial finish... if you're reading this Blog, you're fan enough to know that information.
The question now is what can the sanctioning body do to fix it? Doing nothing will be just as criminal as the events themselves. First things first, however.
My suggestions below assume the following:
1. Clint Bowyer intentionally spun his car on orders from the team to manipulate the finishing order. There is enough circumstantial evidence to support this.
2. Brian Vickers' last lap speed (about 50mph slower than everyone else) was done to manipulate the finishing order. Timing and scoring data clearly confirms the speed.
3. Clint Bowyer's sequence of pit stops the last 3 laps was done to manipulate the finishing order. There is also enough circumstantial evidence to support this.
Here's what NASCAR should do:
1. Disqualify the 15 car from the Chase for "actions detrimental to stock car racing," and take away all points earned on Saturday night. His point total going into Chicago is reset to what it was leaving Atlanta.
2. Insert the 39 car into the Chase because he was leading at the time of the spin and had the running order remained the same without the caution period, he would have earned a spot.
3. Disqualify the 56 car from the Chase because he directly benefited from Clint's spin. Take away all points earned on Saturday night. His point total going into Chicago is reset to what it was leaving Atlanta.
4. Insert the 24 car into the Chase because the actions of the 55 car caused the 22 to out place the 24 enough to get in.
5. The 22 car did nothing wrong, but did clearly benefit from the actions of the 15 and 55. While not exactly right, leave the 22 in the Chase.
6. Issue a fine to Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) in the amount of $500,000.
7. Suspend Michael Waltrip's NASCAR license for a period of one year. This applies as to his role as an owner or a driver. Fine Michael Waltrip personally $250,000.
8. Suspend crew chief Brian Pattie's (#15) NASCAR license for a period of six months. The crew chief is responsible for the actions of all team members. Fine Brian Pattie personally $100,000.
crew chief Scott Miller's (#55) NASCAR license for a period of six months. The crew chief
is responsible for the actions of all team members. Fine Scott Miller personally $100,000.
I realize these penalties are unprecedented and extremely severe. However, that's how severe this issue is. There are three areas within the sport that you don't manipulate -- tires, fuel or engine size. This is every bit as serious.
Do what's right, NASCAR. Doing so shows us that you're serious about this and are willing to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. This is, unfortunately, your sport's version of points shaving.