Did Penske Racing strike a deal with Front Row Motorsports to aid Joey Logano's efforts to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup?
Team communication between driver David Gilliland and his Front Row Motorsports team indicates Gilliland may have given a position to Logano in the final laps of Saturday's NASCAR race at Richmond. The Associated Press was the first to report the story.
In the audio communication, per the AP, a voice believed to be Gilliland crew chief Frank Kerr informs the team's spotter that Penske "better pay big" for the position Gilliland conceded to Logano.
"The committee knows what I've been asking for," Kerr says.
"We've got the big dog and all his cronies," the spotter replies.
Kerr then says: "Travis knows what I've been asking for," an apparent reference to Penske Racing competition director Travis Geisler.
A short time later, Logano passed Gilliland on a restart and finished 22nd - one spot ahead of Gilliland and good enough for a berth in the Chase field.
"Good job, good job, man," the spotter says. "Hopefully we'll get something out of that."
NASCAR released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying it was investigating the allegations: "NASCAR is aware of reports about the #22 (Logano) and #38 (Gilliland) radio communications at Richmond International Raceway and is looking into it, but has yet to see anything in full context that requires any action."
The discovery follows NASCAR taking the unprecedented step of removing Martin Truex Jr. from the Chase Monday after determining Michael Waltrip Racing had orchestrated events in the in the final laps to ensure Truex eligibility. In addition, MWR received a record $300,000 fine and team general manager Ty Norris was suspended indefinitely.
Ultimately, the point Logano received for passing Gilliland proved to be inconsequential whether he made the Chase. Athough he finished ahead of Jeff Gordon by just a single point to finish 10th overall, Logano would still have made the Chase via a wild card.
The Chase begins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.