Clint Bowyer's race-winning car at New Hampshire failed an intense NASCAR inspection on Wednesday, earning the driver a 150-point penalty that could wipe out his championship chances.
NASCAR also fined crew chief Shane Wilson $150,000, and suspended him for the next six Sprint Cup races. Car chief Chad Haney was also suspended six races, and team owner Richard Childress was docked 50 owner points.
Bowyer won Sunday's opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship to vault from 12th to second in the standings. The penalty drops him back to last place, 185 points behind leader Denny Hamlin with nine races left to determine the champion.
The car passed its initial inspection at New Hampshire on Sunday, but was taken by NASCAR back to its North Carolina research and development center. It was there that NASCAR found the rear end of the car had been manipulated by Richard Childress Racing.
"We feel certain that the cause of the car being out of tolerance by sixty thousandths of an inch, less than 1/16 of an inch, happened as a result of the wrecker hitting the rear bumper when it pushed the car into winner's circle," Childress said.
"The rear bumper was also hit on the cool down lap by other drivers congratulating Clint on his victory. That's the only logical way that the left-rear of the car was found to be high at the tech center. We will appeal NASCAR's ruling and take it all the way to the NASCAR commissioner for a final ruling, if need be."
BASKETBALLTeam USA plays Greece today
Geno Auriemma is a master motivator.
He doesn't need to say much to remind the U.S. women's basketball team that it is not the defending world champions.
"They know what's at stake here," Auriemma said. "They know what happened in 2006."
Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi played on that third-place team. Even though they won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the loss to Russia at worlds is still fresh in their minds.
"It definitely is a motivator for those of us that were on that team," Catchings said. "I can still remember how I felt after the game sitting in the locker room. We sat there in our uniforms for probably a good 45 minutes to an hour even after the game like, 'OK, what just happened?'"
The U.S. will open group play Thursday against Greece, which is making its first appearance in the world championship.
AROUND THE HORN
MMA: The California State Athletic Commission suspended UFC middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen for one year after revealing he tested positive for steroids following a loss to Anderson Silva last month in Oakland.
NHL: The Capitals signed goaltender Michal Neuvirth to a two-year contract extension worth $2.3 million.
Tennis: Juan Martin del Potro will return to tennis next week in the Thailand Open, ending eight months on the sideline after wrist surgery.
NBA: The NBA and its players' association have completed another negotiating session and say they will continue meeting in smaller groups as they try to complete a new collective bargaining agreement.
The league and union met for three hours Wednesday and issued a joint statement, calling the talks "cordial and constructive." It was the second meeting this summer and fifth since last August.
... The Bobcats will bring Javaris Crittenton to training camp with a non-guaranteed contract.
Golf: Ernie Els was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in the first year he was on the ballot. Doug Ford, whose 19 victories on the PGA Tour include the Masters and PGA Championship, and two-time major winner Jock Hutchison were elected through the Veteran's Category.