Menard Richmond Spin Causing Controversy
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on September 16, 2011 | 3:43 P.M. EST
"The car was wrecked and tore to pieces. It's behind the fab shop now, a pile of junk." (Photo: Getty Images)
JOLIET, Ill. – Richard Childress Racing remains in the spotlight over allegations Paul Menard intentionally caused a caution last week in Richmond to benefit teammate Kevin Harvick.
Menard spun to bring out a late caution in Saturday night’s regular season finale at Richmond effectively erasing the lead of Jeff Gordon who was ahead of Harvick.
As the cars came to pit road for fuel and tires, Harvick’s team beat Gordon’s out of his pit stall and took over the top spot, a lead he held the rest of the way for the victory.
In the aftermath of the turn of events, conversation about a radio communication between Menard and team officials alleged a directive to spin and cause the yellow flag might have been given.
When informed of that possibility, Gordon said it raised some questions in is mind.
"What I heard was something about some communication about needing a caution, not needing a caution, and then they were giving the gaps between me and the 29 car, the distance as I closed in," Gordon said. "I think after I passed them and they said something and Paul asked, 'Do you need the caution? Don't need the caution?'
"Then they said, 'Go to channel 2,' and then they spun out.
"You do whatever you can as a team to win, win races, win championships, and if any of that is true of what's being speculated right now, all I have can say is I've lost a lot of respect for Paul Menard if that's the case.”
Gordon did caution he wasn’t pointing a finger at anyone.
"But I don't want to blame him for any of that if it's not true,” he said. “He might have just lost it off of turn four and caution came out. But when you listen to the radio, and I've had other people translate it to me, it sounds a little fishy.'
Menard was asked about the situation while he conducted an appearance in the Joliet area ahead of this weekend’s racing at Chicagoland Speedway.
"No," he said flatly to SB Nation when asked about intentionally spinning. "The car was wrecked and tore to pieces. It's behind the fab shop now, a pile of junk. You'd put new tires on and it would feel pretty good. After 10 laps, it was total (expletive)."
Team owner Richard Childress released a statement regarding the allegations of team orders.
“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. We are at Chicagoland Speedway to win the race and get a great start toward the championship."
NASCAR is also involved in the incident and president Mike Helton addressed the issue with the media Friday morning at Chicagoland Speedway.
“We're going to look into it and see if there's anything,'' Helton said. "A lot of it is going to be interpretation. Certainly, it's on us to understand exactly what all we can find as far as facts are concerned. It's on all of our shoulders to get the facts right and if there's something there, we should find out about it and be sure that we've got it right.''