NNS: Unquestionably Bowyer’s Punishment Fit The Crime


Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

By: Toby Christie

Everybody is getting bent out of shape about Clint Bowyer’s three race probation after spinning out Denny Hamlin in last week’s Nationwide race at Dover. The reason that people don’t understand the penalty is that it is the exact same punishment Carl Edwards suffered after sending Brad Keselowski for a wild ride at Atlanta just months ago.

Yes Edwards went for his retaliation at speeds in excess of 180 miles per hour, while Bowyer went for his retribution at the slower pace of a caution, but there is one reason that the punishment for both situations should be the same.

That reason is simply Steve Park. For those who know the story of Steve Park, and are still questioning this penalty let me just say one thing… It’s amazing how quickly we forget that anything can happen at any time on a racetrack.

For those more recent or younger fans that don’t know about Steve Park, he was an up and coming driver that was making his mark on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving for Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. He was coming off of a win and an 11th-place finish in the points in 2000, and his career looked extremely bright.

The 2001 season started off on a somber note for Park, and his Dale Earnhardt Incorporated team, as their owner and friend Dale Earnhardt was killed in a last lap crash in the Daytona 500. Despite the incredibly tragic start to the season, Park would win the very next week at Rockingham, and it was looking to be a banner year for the young driver.

That is until his career and more importantly his life were in jeopardy following a crash in a Nationwide race at Darlington later that season.

Under caution in the South Carolina 200, Park was weaving back and forth to clean his tires for the upcoming restart, when all of a sudden his steering wheel popped off of his steering collumn. This sent park veering straight left down the track, when he was t-boned by Larry Foyt, who was going incredibly fast to catch up with the pack before the green flag came out.

Steve Park was never the same after that crash, but he was lucky to survive.

This is why we shouldn’t be questioning NASCAR for making Bowyer’s penalty equal to that of Edwards’ earlier in the season… Anything can happen at anytime on a race track, no matter what the speed, or what condition of the activities on the track, and we should never forget that.

We have become so confident in the safety of the race cars here recently that it seems that we have almost forgotten that our heroes can be injured, or more seriously killed if and when things go wrong.

I fully support the correlation in the penalties, and I actually think that each of them should have had a stiffer punishment.

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About Toby Christie

Toby Christie is the Senior Writer for Rubbings Racing. He has been watching NASCAR since 1993, and has covered the sport as a media member since 2007. Toby is a proud member of the NMPA. Additionally, Toby is a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, subpar guitarist and he is pretty good around a mini-golf course.

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  1. steven

    May 21, 2010 at 5:22 am

    NASCAR has said “Have at it, boys” so HAMLIN IS FREE TO BULLDOZE ANYONE HE WANTS OUT OF HIS WAY. I think his problem actually is that he doesn’t have the talent of his teammate Kyle Busch and that Denny is overwhelmed with ambition.

  2. rx7425969

    May 21, 2010 at 7:00 am

    BS!! why wasnt Hamlin punished for taking out 10 cras at the end of the race. did you see all the different crew members shaking Bowyers hand on his way to the “trailer”. incredible that Hamlin wrecks people all the time and is NEVER penalized. GIBBS RACING must have nascar paid off.

  3. GEOFF

    May 21, 2010 at 10:43 am

    How the hell does Steve Parks freak accident compare to Edwards & Keselowski and Hamiln & Bowyer.
    Geoff FL

  4. Toby Christie

    May 21, 2010 at 11:09 am

    RSX: the difference in when Hamlin makes contact with people and retaliation. Hamlin usually makes contact during hard racing, the initial crash last saturday was Hamlins dault, but what NASCAR doesn’t like is when drivers setle the score by purposely crashing others on the track. Believe me I don’t agree with what led up to the retaliation either… In fact I wrote an article on that as well: http://rubbingsracing.com/rubbingsracingWP/2010/05/16/prime-example-of-why-cup-drivers-need-to-stay-out-of-nationwide/

    Geoff: first off thank you for reading my article. The Steve Park issue was brought up to show that a crash under caution or under green flag could each result in injury or death… As a result I agree with edwards and bowyer’s penalties being equivalent. If a driver purposely hits somebody under any condition he deserves to suffer the consequences.

  5. 61 Starliner

    May 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Hamlin deserves everything he gets. He is the biggest whiner in NASCAR. He didn’t get probation for taking out Keslowski in retaliation. If you really believe that what these guys do is all that dangerous ie., Steve Parks situation, then the penalty should be a lot bigger, like 5 race suspension first offense, 500,000 fine. I mean that should be the least for endangering a life.

  6. JOE

    May 22, 2010 at 10:56 am

    He should have been parked for the three races and Edwards should have been parked for the year! If you have a beef with another driver take it to the parking lot after the race. That’s the way we used to settle it, but these pansy drivers we have now are scared to do that!…………..Signed………….. an old time driver

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