NASCAR has launched a probe following Clint Bowyer’s late-race spin at Richmond International Raceway, which some teams have deemed suspicious. The spin came in the final laps of the race and ultimately benefited team member Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR president Mike Helton stated that officials didn’t see anything to initially indicate Bowyer’s spin was intentional. However, the organization will look closely at footage and team radio chatter to determine if it was planned.
Whether it was accidental or intentional, the spin changed the outcome of the race, and likely the championship, reports ESPN. At the end of the race, Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon failed to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
But Bowyer’s teammate, Truex Jr., did. The questions surrounding the spin, which happened with seven laps to go, have marred the start of the Chase. It has also raised questions about the possibility that a race team could manipulate pivotal moments of the race.
At the time of the spin, Newman was leading and was battling Truex for the last spot. CBS Sports notes that Clint Bowyer denied his spin was intentional. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver commented, “We had a flat tire or something. It just snapped around.”
He also appeared annoyed with the negative media attention, adding, “I know it’s a lot of fun for you guys to write a lot of wacky things. Go ahead if you want to. Get creative. But don’t look too much into it.”
NASCAR may also investigate two late-race pit stops made by Bowyer and teammate Brian Vickers. The team’s radio communication suggested that the pit stops may not have been an accident. They resulted in Joey Logano improving his position and earning a spot in the Chase.
The move effectively eliminated Jeff Gordon, who missed the Chase by one point. NASCAR has not had a chance to review the ESPN audio, but is expected to do so in the coming days.