DOVER, Del. -- At 10:45 in the media center, in walked
No one would expect what happened next.
He hit the podium, settled in, cleared his throat and started firing with a 10-minute assault of verbal bullets that must have left everyone in NASCAR ducking for cover. In a half-Q & A session, half-speech, a usually laid-back Bowyer passionately laid out his case for why his No. 33 Chevrolet shouldn't be penalized at all after New Hampshire.
In a three-minute gospel of sorts from the media center altar, Bowyer presented a six-point timeline of what happened, one he claimed was written down at 6 AM this morning after waking up. Let's go through it bit by bit:
Bowyer claims that after the RIR race, when the No. 33 was picked for random inspection, NASCAR notified RCR that week both sides of the car were dangerously close to not passing body tolerances. He explained the rear of the car was "too high" and the revelation led to a "butt-chewing, ugly" meeting led by owner
"It involved everybody from me, to the fabrication shop," he explained. "I'm telling you, everybody got in line and did that."
There was no room for error, because...
According to Bowyer, the sanctioning body made it clear his Chevy would be heading back to the R & D Center after the race no matter where his car finished. That led to a two-hour session just before leaving for New Hampshire where the team made "double sure" nothing was wrong with the car before departing.
"They already told us [the car would be penalized if it was close again], so we fixed the thing before it went to New Hampshire, so this wouldn't happen," he said. "We wouldn't rub it in their face, say we'd continue to do this and not do anything about it."
This point was defiantly reemphasized by Bowyer, who claims "he doesn't like the R & D center," giving a fired-up opinion of the situation. "What you bring to the race track is what you inspect. Three days later, the car completely taken apart ... it's something you haven't raced. It's a completely different vehicle. You take the suspension off the thing, these are all things you bolt off ... it can interrupt the way the car is measured. How can they possibly be kept in the same box?"
Bowyer's most frustrating moments surrounded this point, where he explained a
Bowyer claimed the penalty was devastating, explaining it's hard to move on from the impending loss of his crew chief and car chief should the appeal fail. For now, they're at the track but will start serving their suspension should nothing be overturned in a couple of weeks.
"It's hard to even focus on this week," Bowyer explained. "That's what sucks. We're riding a momentum wave, a huge, huge dose of confidence over the last month and we get to Dover and now, this mess. This is a good race track for me. I won two Nationwide races here, and love this race track. I think we could win again. I sure hope so. I can't wait to be back in this very room and talking about winning this race."
Repeating an argument made in an Richard Childress Racing statement Wednesday, Bowyer made it abundantly clear the team thinks damage could have been easily caused by a 2-ton wrecker that pushed his car to Victory Lane after running out of gas past the checkered flag.
"I do know one fact," he claimed. "The left-rear cover was split. The bumper cover from the quarterpanel, the rivets were pulled out of it. I have a picture of that. If it was hit hard enough to have split that ... I'm just saying. We're not talking a half of an inch, you're talking the thickness of that quarterpanel."
"[But again,] their mind was made up before the wrecker was even into the picture. I found out about it after the fact, the crew came to me and said somehow, that car was high ..."
Perhaps the most biting comments from Bowyer, though, came through the infraction itself, one he said, "80% of the media and everyone don't understand what the infraction even was."
"If I won the race because of some measurement no one understands in this room, I'd give [trophy] back. I think NASCAR has a lot of problems with a lot of cars being out of the box and they needed to set an example."