NASCAR is "investigating communications between" the teams of drivers Joey Logano and David Gilliland during Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Int'l Raceway, according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. Penske Racing's Logano, who got into the Chase for the Sprint Cup "with the help of Michael Waltrip Racing's cars, may also have been aided by Front Row Motorsports' Gilliland." Gilliland "may have given up his position to let Logano pass him in the final laps." From radio communications between Gilliland and Logano's teams, it "seems Gilliland's spotter is passing along a request to let Logano pass him on the closing laps while Ryan Newman was leading the race." Logano "passed Gilliland on a restart and finished 22nd." Gilliland's spotter following the race said, "Good job, good job, man. Hopefully we'll get something out of that." But Penske Racing President Tim Cindric last night said that there "was no conspiracy." Cindric: "There was no bribe. [Team Owner] Roger Penske is not involved in trying to manipulate the outcome of a race or what have you. In fact, the first time Roger heard any of this stuff was this afternoon" (USA TODAY, 9/12). The AP's Jenna Fryer wrote it is a "tried-and-true practice in NASCAR, where teammates have long swapped position to allow a teammate -- or even a driver from the same manufacturer -- to lead a lap and earn a needed bonus point." Other "lower-profile moves occur throughout the season" (AP, 9/11).
GORDON SPEAKS OUT: Driver Jeff Gordon, who was eliminated from the Chase field by Logano's finish, yesterday said that he "felt he deserved to be in the championship-determining field." Gordon said, “I haven’t heard the audio, I heard about it. All I can say is I really feel like we deserve to be in it based on everything that happened Saturday night" (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/12). In Charlotte, David Scott notes Gordon "warned Wednesday that the repercussions" of MWR's manipulation of last weekend's race "are only beginning." Gordon said, "It's way beyond you and me, way beyond the sport and the fans. It reaches out much further than that. It has affected far more people than we can understand. It's going to happen again. So it has to be addressed in a big way." He added, "When the time comes, we want to see what we can do to help our teammate win the championship. The difference is there are lines that are drawn, and this crossed over the line. ... It's the integrity of the sport. What level do you go to win?" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/12). Gordon: "When I found out later how they manipulated it, that was anger on a whole 'nother level. It's hard to describe and it's disappointing" (USA TODAY, 9/12).
NOT GOING AWAY: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes, "We are dealing with the juiciest, ugliest NASCAR scandal of the past decade." It has "called into question the very integrity of the sport," and it will "continue to hover as the biggest story of the Chase." This is a "body blow to the sport." NASCAR "didn't do enough to penalize MWR," and "most notably, Clint Bowyer got away almost Scot-free." But what NASCAR "didn't do, MWR's sponsors might." Fowler: "What company really wants its name plastered all over a car for an outfit that would do something like that?" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/12). A CHARLOTTE OBSERVER editorial states, "Drivers are critical to their teams’ and NASCAR’s revenues. But if you truly want to remove a stain on your sport, you have to make the consequences of it sting." NASCAR wants to "convince people that it’s a legitimate sport, one that won’t tolerate the 'if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t tryin’' mindset that has long been part of its culture." But sports fans "know leniency when they see it, again and again." If NASCAR "really wants to get somewhere, it’ll stop driving in circles" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/12).