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Another Chase controversy brewing? This time, it’s Logano, per reports (UPDATED)

Sep 11, 2013, 5:30 PM EDT

Federated Auto Parts 400 Getty Images

Thought we were done with controversies regarding the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup? We may not be.

An Associated Press report Wednesday revealed there may have been collusion between Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports, both Ford teams, to help Joey Logano into the Chase.

The AP’s Jenna Fryer, who was also first with the penalties doled out to Michael Waltrip Racing on Monday night, reviewed radio transmissions believed to be between Front Row crew chief Frank Kerr, who works on David Gilliland‘s No. 38 car, and the team spotter.

The spotter said to Kerr, “We’ve got the big dog and all his cronies,” to which Kerr responded, “Travis knows what I’ve been asking for.” Travis could be a reference to Penske Racing competition director Travis Geisler.

FOX Sports said it also learned of what it deemed “improper communication” between the two teams and said it would have more to report on the Wednesday evening edition of NASCAR RaceHub at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Prior to the Chase reset, Logano ended the race in 10th place in the standings, one point ahead of Jeff Gordon for the 10th and final locked-in position before the two Wild Card entries. He has a win this year, which Gordon does not.

UPDATE, 4:23 p.m. ET: NASCAR has just issued a statement: “NASCAR is aware of reports about the #22 and #38 radio communications at Richmond International Raceway and is looking into it, but has yet to see anything in full context that requires any action.”

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m. ET: I had a viewing of Race Hub and beyond the full radio transmission being revealed, there wasn’t much else to add at this time. There was nothing major from the transmission other than what was written above.

If NASCAR decides to take action as a result of this situation, then the story is advanced; otherwise, there’s nothing particularly new about drivers exchanging positions on the race track as the result of radio communications. It happens in plenty of races before, leading up to, and perhaps even in the Chase to help certain drivers gain positions.

If it can be proven there was collusion between the two teams, and an accompanying radio transmission emerges from Penske Racing to Front Row, then that’s when the next domino will fall.

Either way, it still sucks to be Jeff Gordon right now. He missed out initially on Saturday night, missed out again after the Waltrip penalties came down and would remain on the outside looking in of the Chase if no action is taken regarding this radio chatter.

  1. kitnamania13 - Sep 11, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Gilliland wasn’t the only Ford that laid down at the end to get Logano into the top 10. And even so, it’s not really that big of a deal. Drivers are always changing positions at the end of a race or pulling over to let teammates lead a lap. It’s also not that big of a deal what Vickers did. The big deal is what Bowyer did, and for some reason, Nascar has yet to punish him in any real way.

  2. 48abjj - Sep 11, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Bowyer should be parked. NASCAR, do you get it, yet? Dump the ridiculous Chase format. Bowyer as champion would be perfect, though. He could carry on the tradition of the other infamous cheater and five-time Chase chump, JJ.

  3. indycarseries500 - Sep 11, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    I can tell you what happened here. A Ford exec told them to do it (or it was the plan all along) and Kerr made that radio transmission. It’s exactly like when Ford only let their drivers draft with other Fords at Talladega a few years ago.

    There’s nothing there to support Penske Racing had anything to do with it so therefore I don’t think NASCAR should penalize them.

  4. mrbgood315 - Sep 11, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    The Bowyer spin was a unique situation in a blatant attempt to manipulate the entire race & needed to be dealt with by NASCAR. But the stuff with Vickers pitting late or letting your team/manufacturer-mates pass for various reasons happens weekly in every racing series around the globe. And you can’t tell me that if Danica or Mark Martin were running in front of Jeff Gordon at the end of that race in Richmond that the #24 team wouldn’t have made the same call…

  5. blmn61140 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    You can’t tell me that the last part of your post is anything other than speculation.
    The point is,these things did happen and they are just another ugly reminder that this business-related sport has turned into nothing more than a sports-related business.NASCAR’s unique charm died the day Brian France took the reins.
    Guess money really does corrupt.

    • joestolfi3 - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      Good comment, and I think the word “sport” isn’t used by Nascar, it’s now called a “SHOW” …
      and their show stinks …………

  6. 5hourspinergy - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    Can NASCAR Handle The TRUTH? All this blather about drivers surrendering spots to another driver, for whatever reason, is a NASCAR tradition. Frankly, race fans don’t really care much about that. The honest outrage is about Clint Bowyer’s intentional spin to alter the outcome of the race and the seeding of the Chase. That’s huge.

    But NASCAR won’t tackle the real villain, they’re trying to scapegoat their way out of this mess. Now Helton & Co. have painted themselves into a corner with more ‘communications’ coming forward. From now on every charged team is going to rightfully claim that these communications are standard practice, can point out multiple instances, and will beat all further NASCAR charges with evidence of NASCAR’s knowledge.

    Of course MWR was happy to accept their penalties because they knew, one way or another, they were guilty of something and caught, and by accepting the NASCAR penalties they still got to keep their best shot at the Championship in the Chase and the $million$ that goes along with being in it. What’s a few hundred grand when many $million$ are for the taking.

    So… the only way to stop this madness (and it won’t stop until Fans are satisfied), and get back to racing, is for NASCAR to correct their boo boo. Fortunately, NASCAR has two choices: They can further charge Bowyer so fans know justice has been rightly served, or they can convince Clint Bowyer to MAN UP and admit to the intentional spin and accept his just deserved.

    I’m sure Fans hope that NASCAR can resolve this before the weekend, and if NASCAR wants to keep face they better get it done. Quickly and honestly, don’t play us Fans for fools.

  7. zapainhurtzalot - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    I’m not a NASCAR fan, however, I live in “NASCAR Country” and can’t help but hear people talk about the races, etc. So take this post with a grain of salt coming from someone who doesn’t follow the sport as closely as most posters do.

    First of all, I don’t understand the point of “The Chase”. It seems that it automatically disqualifies drivers from winning the championship. Also, if these qualified drivers are the only ones that can win The Chase, then why are there other drivers in The Chase Races? This sounds to me like a playoff system and in other sports, if you don’t make the playoffs then your season is done.

    I’ve never understood how points are earned and the various ways to do so. You get a point for leading a lap, etc This is all quite confusing. I’ve noticed that several drivers in The Chase haven’t won a race at all, so why are they even in contention? Isn’t that what the sport, or any sport is about, winning?

    Why doesn’t NASCAR just go to a simple formula of awarding points by where a driver finishes a race. That seems more than fair to me and would eliminate all this stuff like letting a team mate pass so he can get a point for leading a lap and other various point earning methods.

    Why not just, oh let’s say, the winning driver gets 100 points, second gets 90, and so on. Seems to much simpler, at least to a non-fan like me. All the other assigning of points seems to complicate what should be so simple. Trying to figure out how NASCAR points are scored is like trying to figure out how the game of cricket is played if you aren’t familiar with the sport.

    I used to live right down the road from the Rockingham Speedway back when they had NASCAR races there. Just out of curiosity I went to a race. I was totally lost throughout. If it wasn’t for some informative fans and the scoreboard thingee, I’d had no idea of who was leading and the other driver’s placements. I really couldn’t get into watching cars drive in an oval for 400 or 500 miles. It almost seemed pointless, especially since I didn’t understand how to keep track of what was going on.

    The only thing I can honestly say is about NASCAR is, I enjoy watching the wrecks and the fights when drivers have a beef with each other. Most of the time I can’t even figure out what they are fighting about LOL.

    Just an outsider’s perspective, so I expect to get flamed by you who are devout fans. I look forward to any insight someone can provide and/or the flamage that follows this post!

    • nderdog - Sep 12, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      Since you’re not a fan, I’ll try and make it easy. The points system really is pretty simple. Points are awarded based on finishing position. 43rd (last) place gets 1 point, 42nd gets 2 points, etc. on up to 42 points for second. The winner gets 45 points, counting the 2 additional bonus points for or the win. Apart from that, the only extra points awarded are for leading a lap (1 point per driver per race, which also means the winning driver gets at least 46 total points because they led the last lap) and leading the most laps in a race awards 1 bonus point. The bonus points are to encourage drivers to actually compete for the lead and try to race up front rather than everyone just playing follow the leader up front and being satisfied with a decent run. At the end of the “regular season” the top 12 drivers have their points reset to 2000 to ensure that they end up in the top 12 spots at the end of the year. Then each driver in the top 10 is given 3 bonus points for each win so far, and then it’s a 10-race dash for the cash, so to speak.

      Yes, the drivers eliminated from the Chase can’t win the championship, but it’s not like other sports where only 2 teams play each other at a time. A 12-car race just isn’t the same as a 43-car race. It would be like telling a baseball team that they could only use players who ranked in the top 20 at their position in the playoffs. The “non-contenders” still have a lot to race for, though. They can (and usually do) still win races, and there is a big bonus for the driver that ends up 13th in the final standings as a consolation prize.

      Yes, NASCAR is about winning, but it’s also about consistently finishing well. A driver who wins a couple races but frequently crashes out of races and finishes in the back 30 often is going to finish behind someone who finishes in the top 5 week in and week out, but can’t quite nail down a win. There are some drivers who kind of luck into a win (a rain-shortened race, fuel-mileage strategy, being in the right place at the right time, lucky break with a wreck, etc.) but normally don’t run particularly well, which does end up with some drivers with a win on the outside looking in at drivers with no wins, but it’s part of the sport. Some of the biggest names like Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. haven’t won this year, and one is in the chase, one just barely missed it. Tony Stewart did win a race, but he also hasn’t raced for a few weeks due to a severe injury. Would you rather watch a driver who averages about 20th place but won 1 race or the guy who averages a 7th place finish who finished 2nd 3 times but never won a race? The All-Star race is the reward for winning a race throughout the season. The Chase is to reward the “best drivers”.

      NASCAR can seem very boring or confusing if you don’t follow it. My wife was patient with me and explained everything along the way but it still took a while before I really felt that I knew what was going on. Now, the hardest thing for me is trying to keep track of who’s driving what number this year and following my favorite driver when he’s in a different paint scheme that is too similar to others on the track for my taste. :)

  8. bbeaman78 - Sep 13, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    When the races are won by avoiding huge wrecks at the super speedways, gas mileage on 1 1/2 mile tracks, and collusion of teams and manufacturers determines championship contenders I think it’s not really racing any more.

    Trevor Bayne shouldn’t have a Daytona 500 and Danica shouldn’t have a ride or a full sponsor.

    It is all a joke now. The skill of the drivers and real racing doesn’t happen.

    How many more new generations of cars can they make?

    Add in the fluff cars from about 26th back, and who actually has ever seen full grandstands for nationwide or the truck series? Consolidate all of the series and consolidate sponsorship dollars.

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