FORT WORTH — As a tribute to the heroes of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick honored first responders at Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday.
"To have first responders out from your community goes above and beyond what I was expected here today," Harvick said. "Obviously, there's a lot of emotion and a lot of things that have happened on September 11th. I think when you look at the first responders that we had here today, one thing that I'm really happy about is that I was able to come to Texas Motor Speedway and see the honor the people around their community."
Harvick's father was a firefighter. Harvick is seeded fourth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup after Saturday's race in Richmond that gave NASCAR a black eye.
At issue was an intentional spin by Clint Bowyer with nine laps to go, a maneuver that let his teammate, Martin Truex Jr., temporarily make the field for the chase.
The audio from Bowyer's in-car radio gave a hint at what the teams appeared to be trying to do.
Crew chief Brian Pattie: "Is your arm starting to hurt? I bet it's hot in there. Itch it."
Clint Bowyer: "Oh yeah."
Griffin: "Right with you, 88. Right with you, right with you, right with you."
At that point in the race, Bowyer spins out.
Bowyer continues to deny that he intentionally spun his car to bring out the caution flag that let Truex make the field for the Chase.
"No, we had a flat tire or something," he said after the race. "I mean, we went from leading the race and got back there, I mean they were driving off from us."
At the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the car right behind Bowyer.
"He just spun right out," Earnhardt said. "It was the craziest think I ever saw. But he was hemming around the brakes, and jerking the car around, and then the thing just spun around. It was crazy."
NASCAR president Frank Helton levied a $300,000 fine against Michael Waltrip Racing.
"It was deep into the night, early the next morning before we began to sense that there was something more than what we saw on the race track occurring," Helton said.
Bowyer and Truex were both docked 50 points, causing Truex to lose his spot in the Chase... and letting Ryan Newman in.
"I didn't even know that Truex was in, and he was out at that point," Bowyer said.
Sponsors — including NAPA Auto Parts for the #55 car — are reviewing their relationship with Michael Waltrip Racing, calling it a significant error in judgment.
Also under review is Clint Bowyer's main sponsorship by 5 Hour Energy.