Has the trend increased over the past year as an effort to knock five-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson from his throne? Have teams been digging deeper than before and taking more risks to gain an edge? Is the "dark side" of NASCAR, as The Charlotte Observer's Jim Utter called it Thursday, really coming to light?
Not in the least bit.
NASCAR is a sport built on pushing the rule book to the edge to gain an advantage. It's a sport the pits teams against one another week after week, year after year while going for the title, trophy and prize money.
Looking back throughout NASCAR's history, it becomes clear this type of thing is nothing new.
Hall of Famer Junior Johnson made a name for himself in NASCAR pushing the envelope and exposing that gray area in the NASCAR rule book. Just look at Darrell Waltrip's 1985 All-Star Race win in which the Junior Johnson-built engine mysteriously blew after taking the checkered flag.
These days, teams are hit hard by penalties for fractions of inches. NASCAR has put teams in such a box when it comes to adjustments on the car, and it is harder and harder to push that envelope without getting slapped with a suspension, a fine and/or a loss of points.
What about team orders, you may ask? Well just look at Harry Gant's 1991 win at Talladega.
As Gant was running out of fuel on the last lap, his teammate Rick Mast came up behind him and pushed from behind (this was long before the two-car tandems we see today). Although it was the final lap, NASCAR did not penalize Gant, despite calls to do so by Darrell Waltrip.
When the question of team orders was raised, Mast reportedly said he never received team orders from the pits, as his radio was not working.
Fast-forward to last weekend's race at Talladega and drivers are complaining of team orders.
Again, nothing new.
So, what has brought all of this to the forefront of the sport in recent days? Look no further than the technological, 24-hour news cycle we live in. We live in a world where if a celebrity sneezes, TMZ could probably tell us if they washed their hands or just wiped it on their sleeve.
Now, the world of NASCAR is not the world of TMZ, but should we be surprised when a piece of technology – the in-car audio on NASCAR.com's RaceBuddy – catches a questionable conversation between driver and crew chief? Not at all.
Those conversations, directions from team owners and pushing the rule book to the edge have been taking place all throughout NASCAR's history and they will continue to take place into the future. Teams just have to be more careful of their surroundings and walk a fine line when it comes to handling those types of situations.