Top 20 moments of 2013, #5: Spingate

As we near 2014, we are looking at the top 20 moments of this past season, and in the number 5 spot is 'Spingate.'

It is not unheard of for players, drivers and teams to look for an edge in competition, in any sport.

This season saw one of the most blatant examples of manipulation seen in motorsports in recent history.

During the closing laps of the regular season ending race at Richmond, which would set the 12-driver roster for the Chase for the Championship post-season, the drivers at Michael Waltrip Racing did everything they could to help out a teammate.

Clint Bowyer was locked into the chase, while Brian Vickers who drove the number 55 car was mathematically eliminated. But Martin Truex Jr, driving the 56 NAPA car needed only a handful of points to make the post season cut.

With only a handful of laps remaining, Bowyer was given a peculiar message over the radio, and he quickly spun the car bringing out the caution.

Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.
Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.

Photo by: Getty Images

This sent Bowyer to the pits and the back of the pack. As the cars headed to the flag to restart with a little more than half-a-dozen laps to go, Vickers was called to pit lane. This time however, the radio transmission was clear. Michael Waltrip Racing was sending their drivers to the back of the pack, to allow their third man to gain the points needed to make the NASCAR playoff.

It didn’t take long for fans, broadcasters and other teams to figure out what happened, and NASCAR took action.

Bowyer would go unpenalized, as he was locked into the Chase and there was no real evidence that the spin was intentional. However, Truex was removed from the Chase, and the effected drivers by the MWR manipulation, Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon were added.

The fallout from these events did not end there.

About a week after the race, NAPA, a long-time supporter of Michael Waltrip and his race team announced they would leave the team at seasons end. This move was a direct result of the actions taken by the team during that race at Richmond.

Because of this, Waltrip released Truex from any obligation to the team.

"If you lose a third of your revenue, you are going to have to reorganize your business and that's what we've done," team co-owner Rob Kauffman said. "What we are trying to focus on is using this opportunity to not only survive, but use this reorganization to make us better. We made a mistake, we paid a heavy price and we are adjusting to a new reality."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing
Article type Special feature
Tags bowyer, chase, michael, richmond, spin, tire, truex, vickers, waltrip racing, winner, wreck