CHICAGO — Accessibility has always been a hallmark of NASCAR racing.
Unlike what is said privately in dugouts, huddles and locker rooms, communications between drivers, crew chiefs, spotters and car owners are available in real time and in replay to fans, media and NASCAR officials alike.
That, says Dale Earnhardt Jr., is why it’s easy to reconstruct Saturday’s late-race events at Richmond, specifically those that led to a devastating penalty levied against Michael Waltrip Racing and Martin Truex Jr.’s ouster from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“I think those spotters and those crew chiefs and those drivers — some drivers — don’t realize in the heat of the moment exactly how accessible all this information is,” Earnhardt said Thursday during Chase Media Day at the Navy Pier. “That’s another thing, as much as NASCAR’s judgment, I think will be a deterrent.
“No matter how much you think you can camouflage this or pull these smoke and mirrors, the media and the fans can connect the dots.”
Earnhardt also suggested that data mapping, made possible by NASCAR’s switch to Electronic Fuel Injection last year, could provide insight into Clint Bowyer’s spin with seven laps left in Saturday’s race, the incident that set in motion MWR’s manipulation of the outcome.
Bowyer’s spin off Turn 4 deprived Ryan Newman of a probable victory and elevated Truex into a Wild Card position — before NASCAR’s penalty cost him the Chase spot. During his media avaibility Thursday, Bowyer continued to dodge questions about whether the spin was intentional.
“If we needed to know what happened, there’s so much technology, you’d be able to figure it out yourself,” Earnhardt said. “We have all this data. You can look at how he drove the car through the corner a hundred times and watch his brake and throttle and watch it that lap and see what you think.
“We don’t have to get the pitchforks out and go after Clint Bowyer. I’m just saying, if you wanted to know what happened, it would be pretty easy to figure that out without needing Clint to admit to what he did.”