Michael Waltrip defends team: 'We’re not immoral, we’re not irresponsible'
As the organization bearing his name dealt with the ramifications of receiving the largest penalty in NASCAR history, Michael Waltrip defended his team.
The co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, in an interview that aired on the Fox Sport 1 program Race Hub, said there was "no master plan" to aid Martin Truex Jr.'s effort to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
"But we didn't have this complex plan about how we were going to manipulate the race to get Martin in."
In penalties that were announced by NASCAR on Monday, MWR was fined $300,000 and Truex was deducted 50 driver points, which disqualified him from the Chase. MWR general manager Ty Norris was also indefinitely suspended for deliberately telling Brian Vickers to pit so he could concede positions on the track that would enable Truex to secure one of the two Chase wild cards available.
Waltrip adamantly defended Norris, a longtime MWR employee who also spots for Vickers, saying he would have done the same thing if he was in a similar position.
"I don't know if I would have done it any differently," Waltrip said. "I'm afraid that I wouldn't of. Because we've seen people give up positions all the time in this sport to give a teammate a point. It happens. We've seen the leader pull over so another guy can lead. I would have screwed that one up, too."
Regarding the suspicious team communication that seemed to signal to Bowyer that he should create a yellow flag situation, Waltrip said that wasn't the case. Bowyer said immediately afterward, and in various interviews since, that he spun due a deflating tire.
His car owner takes him at his word.
"You saw the video, you heard the audio," Waltrip said. "I stand behind my driver. NASCAR looked at the situation and they didn't think (Bowyer) spun on purpose. I have no reason to believe that's the case."
When issuing its ruling Monday, NASCAR officials said they could not determine conclusively whether Bowyer deliberately spun himself out. Bowyer will begin the Chase seeded eighth.
Waltrip takes umbrage with the how his three-car team is being perceived publicly and stresses that there was no ill intent involved.
"We're not immoral, we're not irresponsible," Waltrip said."The decisions were made just based on circumstances. As we look back, obviously, we would have been smarter and done things differently had we had that option."
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