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Associated Press | File February
Michael Waltrip shown at the Daytona 500. Michael Waltrip Racing has been fined $300,000, and general manager Ty Norris received an indefinite suspension after a NASCAR investigation into Clint Bowyer's spin at Richmond.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
From afar, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has watched Martin Truex's body language to see how his former teammate is handling the fallout from Michael Waltrip Racing race-fixing fiasco at Richmond.
He's had a much closer view of the toll it's taken on Clint Bowyer, who triggered the entire controversy when he spun in the Sept. 7 race with seven laps remaining. NASCAR said it could not prove the spin was intentional; should Bowyer admit that, he risks retroactive penalties.
NASCAR did have evidence that MWR attempted to manipulate the finish of the race to get Truex into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. It issued harsh sanctions against the organization that included knocking Truex out of the Chase. In response, Truex sponsor NAPA Auto Parts said it's ending its association with the team at the end of the year.
"It's almost been as hard to watch Clint go through this as it has been to watch Truex go through it, because Clint is a good guy and obviously was just following orders," Earnhardt said. "He did some things that were out of character and regrettable, and he feels terrible to have any involvement in it. I know that for a fact. I know that to be genuine.
"It's been tough watching him go through that process, too, because he's not that kind of guy to go starting that kind of mess."
Earnhardt was penalized by NASCAR in 2004 for intentionally spinning to bring out a caution he needed. He admitted his guilt and NASCAR punished him.
Bowyer and MWR have maintained from the beginning that his spin was not deliberate, but it was the act that set in motion the chain of events that could put Truex out of work at the end of the season. With NAPA pulling its sponsorship, MWR could be forced to shutter the No. 56 team and let go up to 100 employees if funding can't be found in the next two months.
Earnhardt has a long relationship with Truex, who won two titles driving for him when Earnhardt co-owned Chance 2
Motorsports in the Nationwide Series. They became teammates when Truex moved up to Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Earnhardt was also teammates with Michael Waltrip, and DEI was run by MWR general manager Ty Norris, who was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for the Richmond incident. Earnhardt said he hasn't spoken to Waltrip or Norris.
"I don't really think that there's anything I can share with them that could help them, so I'm not wanting to interject," Earnhardt said. "I get annoyed when people do that so I don't want to be that guy."
As for Truex, he feels for his old friend.
"I haven't had a chance to talk to Truex, but I've kept an eye on him and just seeing his body language, he seems to be handling it pretty well, as good as he can," Earnhardt said. "None of us really know what opportunities are being presented to him. I certainly think he is one of the best drivers in the sport. He has yet to really showcase exactly how good he can be in the car.
"It's difficult to watch him have go through this because you know he had nothing to do with none of that stuff that was going on in Richmond."
Testing at Martinsville open to public
Stock car fans will be treated to something for nothing from Oct. 7-9 at Martinsville Speedway.
Five NASCAR Sprint Cup teams featuring nine drivers will be conducting test sessions on the .526-mile track in preparation for the 500-lap race on Oct. 27 that will be the seventh race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Teams scheduled to test include multicar operations Roush Fenway Racing (drivers Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse), Richard Childress Racing (Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard), plus Kurt Busch (Front Row), Kyle Larson (Earnhardt Ganassi) and David Gilliland (Front Row).
The test sessions, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, will be open to the public at 9 a.m. for free. There will be an hour break for lunch.
Brad Keselowski Racing, which fields teams in the Camping World Truck Series, also will test on those dates.
There will be more truck testing on Oct. 14-15 (Richard Childress Racing) and Oct. 14 (Red Horse Racing). Swan Racing's Sprint Cup team will share the track with the RCR truck teams on Oct. 15.
The Kroger 200 truck series race will be run Saturday, Oct. 26. The Goody's 500 Cup race will be contested Oct. 27.
The Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300, the prestigious event that closes NASCAR's Late Model Stock Car season, is scheduled for Oct. 6.
NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin is being honored by the March of Dimes with the prestigious "Champion for Babies" award recognizing his work raising awareness for the foundation's signature fundraiser.
Hamlin joins Arnold Palmer, Joe Namath and Greg Gumbel as the fourth recipient of the award. It was presented to him Thursday night at the March of Dimes Volunteer Leadership Conference gala in Washington, D.C.
Hamlin's involvement with March of Dimes began when he was hired to drive the FedEx-sponsored No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Hamlin and FedEx team each spring to support the March for Babies fundraising walk. They also host March of Dimes National Ambassador families at NASCAR races and Hamlin has raced with a special paint scheme in each of the past six seasons.
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