NASCAR is no stranger to chicanery. In 1949 at Charlotte, the winner of its very first race in the Strictly Stock Series -- Glenn Dunaway -- was disqualified for having illegal "bootlegger rear springs" on his Ford. The quest to gain an edge by any means necessary usually involves dodgy mechanical innovations, but sometimes dirty tactics come into play. Both Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have gotten into hot water for deliberately spinning out to draw a caution period. Here are some of the more notable instances from NASCAR history.
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With five Chase berths up for grabs in 2013's final regular season Sprint Cup race, Bowyer suspiciously spun out with seven laps to go at Richmond. The resulting caution helped his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, Martin Truex, Jr. secure a berth after Ryan Newman lost his lead. Believing the spin to be an intentional attempt to alter the outcome of an event, NASCAR tossed Truex from the Chase, awarded the berth to Newman. fined MWR $300,000, suspended general manager Ty Norris indefinitely, and docked Truex, Bowyer and Brian Vickers 50 points each. It wasn't Bowyer's first brush with the law. At New Hampshire in 2010, he lost 150 points and his crew chief was suspended for four races when his car failed to meet body template specs.
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After qualifying for the 2007 Daytona 500, Waltrip's Toyota was found to have been running on illegal fuel that was reported to be laced with rocket fuel, jet fuel or an oxygenator. Whatever. NASCAR suspended Waltrip's crew chief indefinitely, seized his car and fined his team 100 points and $100,000. For good measure, the crew chiefs of four other teams were suspended for lesser violations at that year's Great American Race.
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All in the family: Michael Waltrip's older brother Darrell famously said "If you don't cheat, you look like an idiot." Darrell's team was infamous for having frame rails in his car filled with BBs to make racing weight, then later dropping them out through a trap door. The jig was up when the buckshot came out on pit lane, spraying the crew members of other teams and NASCAR officials. Darrell also had his qualifying time -- one of the three fastest -- for the 1976 Daytona 500 tossed when his car was found to be rigged with nitrous oxide to boost horsepower. A.J. Foyt's time was also tossed for the same reason.
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Johnson won his first Daytona 500 in 2006 even though his crew chief had been sent home, suspended for four races, fined $25,000 and put on probation for the season after the rear window of his Chevy was found to have a movable device that illegally improved the car's aerodynamics. Knaus has been a penalty magnet, drawing nine, including four suspensions between March 2001 and March 2012 for such "innovations" as illegal shocks, C-posts and fenders, among other things.
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NASCAR's most popular driver was docked 25 points, fined $10,000 and put on probation for intentionally spinning out to raise a caution and avoid losing a lap at Bristol in March 2004. His team was also relieved of 25 points. "In the heat of battle, a lot of things can happen and decisions can be made that come at a high cost," team owner Teresa Earnhardt said. Actually, Earnhardt might have gotten away with it, but he radioed his crew about what he was doing and later talked about it in interviews.
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NASCAR lightened Busch's wallet by $10,000 after he admitted to deliberately spinning Robby Gordon out in order to draw a caution period during the 2002 Winston All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
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Dale Earnhardt, Sr.'s death in a crash on the final lap shrouded the event and the sport in tragedy, but the 2001 Daytona 500 was also a cavalcade of cheating. Eighteen teams were fined for infractions that included illegal fuel additives, air deflectors, fuel tanks, control arms, suspensions.
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During pre-race inspection at Talladega in May 1997, NASCAR officials tore the roof off Jeff Burton's Ford and fined his team $20,000 when it was found to have been modified to reduce aerodynamic drag and its flaps were illegally placed five inches farther forward than they should have been.
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In 1995, NASCAR soaked Gordon's crew chief Ray Evernham a then-record $60,000 for using suspension parts that weren't kosher. In 2007, points leader Gordon got hit again, this time for an illegal fender that cost him crew chief Steve Letarte (fined $100,000 and suspended for six races), 100 owner points and the ability to practice or qualify for a race at Infineon Raceway.
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Locked in a duel with Terry Labonte (5) during the 1999 night race at Bristol, The Intimidator, who had wrecked his rival during the final lap on the same track four years earlier (Labonte still managed to win), did it again, sending him into a spin. Earnhardt won, but was showered with boos and middle fingers from the crowd. "God, I love this s?t," he said.
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In 1995 at Talladega, Rudd was relieved of $45,000 by NASCAR for having an hydraulic lift in his rear deck lid. He was also penalized and relieved of a victory at the Sonoma road course in 1991 for knocking leader Davey Allison off the track.
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In October 1983 at Charlotte. Petty won with left-side tires on the right side of his car, right-side tires on the left, and an illegal engine that was well over the allowable limit. The King was fined and docked 104 points, but his victory stood, amidst great complaints from his rivals. Interestingly, the car driven by Darrell Waltrip, who finished second, was hauled away from the track before it could be inspected.
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Repeated contact between Yarborough and Allison and their subsequent crash in the final lap of the 1979 Daytona 500, won by Richard Petty, incensed Allison's brother Bobby to the point where he got into a hair-raising fistfight with Yarborough. Donnie Allison and Yarborough swapped accusations of deliberately trying to cause a wreck. NASCAR fined each of them $6,000.
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At least he was honest. The famed country singer drove at Talladega in 1973 and ran laps that were a whopping 15 miles per hour faster than his qualifying time. When he was given the Rookie of the Race Award, he turned it down, confessing that the had illegally removed the restrictors from his carburetor because he "just wanted to see what it was like to run up front for once."
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A self-taught engineer, Yunick (right) was one of the sport's true rascals. His unsponsored Chevy took the pole for the 1967 Daytona 500, but was found to be only 7/8ths the size of a regulation stock car, which meant it pushed a lot less air. The following year, he skirted fuel capacity regulations by creating a fuel line that was 11 feet long and able to hold an extra five gallons. He also stuck an inflated basketball in the tank. After officials checked off on the fuel capacity, he deflated the ball on the sly and added extra gas
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Flock, who was known for racing with his pet monkey inside the car, was disqualified from a race in 1952 because his roll bars were found to be made of something other than metal: much lighter painted wood.
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