NASCAR isn't ready to shut the door on Paul Menard's suspicious spin at Richmond International Raceway just yet.
Despite denials by Menard and team owner Richard Childress, NASCAR president Mike Helton told reporters Friday morning at Chicagoland Speedway that officials are still investigating the incident.
"In light of the suspicions, we're going to look into it and see if there is anything," Helton said. "A lot of it is going to be interpretation, but certainly it's important to understand what all we can find as far as facts are concerned."
Menard spun out late in Saturday's Richmond race, which allowed RCR teammate Kevin Harvick to catch up to race leader Jeff Gordon. Harvick beat Gordon off pit road and then won the race, which made for a crucial swing in Chase bonus points.
Based on radio chatter in which Menard and his team discussed whether a caution was "needed," Gordon told reporters Thursday he considered the timing of the spin "a little fishy."
Menard told SB Nation on Thursday night that his spin was not intentional, and the talk about cautions stemmed from his desire for payback on Matt Kenseth, who had wrecked him earlier in the race. Kenseth acknowledged his role in the incident on Friday morning.
"We've seen in the past accusations, suspicions, things that spool up – it's on all of our shoulders to get the facts right," Helton said. "If there's something out there, we should find out about it and be sure that we've got it right."
Helton said NASCAR would use both video and the audio from Menard's radio channel to help in its investigation.
But Helton added even if officials were able to conclude it was an intentional spin, a penalty was unlikely due to the classification of the potential offense. An intentional spin would be considered a "race procedure" call, Helton said, which would be similar to a decision over whether a baseball was fair or foul.
"You can't go back on Monday and change" the call, Helton said.
However, he said if the spin was found to be intentional and planned, it could fall under the broader "actions detrimental to stock car racing" clause in the NASCAR rulebook.
So far, though, Helton said there wasn't enough evidence to make him think Menard's actions were purposeful.
"I'm not necessarily overwhelmed by the chatter so far," Helton said. "Certainly, we need to get our facts right and find out what, if anything, went on – and be prepared to officiate it."
Childress released a statement earlier on Friday denying any foul play.
"There were no team orders despite all the speculation in the media," Childress said. "I know Paul Menard well enough that he wouldn't have spun out on purpose even if he had been asked."
Helton was careful to label the issue as "allegations" – not evidence – and added: "We still at this point want to wait and get access to all the facts."