Roger Penske: No deal with Front Row at Richmond

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Roger Penske defended his team this morning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, denying that Penske Racing made a deal with Front Row Motorsports during the Chase-deciding event on Sept. 7 at Richmond International Raceway.

Both squads were placed on probation through the end of 2013 after the emergence of radio conversations from Richmond that had Front Row’s Frank Kerr (crew chief for driver David Gilliland) indicate his team would gain some sort of reward in exchange for Gilliland allowing Penske’s Joey Logano to gain a position in the closing laps.

No radio transmission from Penske Racing to Front Row has come to light, but that didn’t stop NASCAR from making its decision against the two teams last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. That bit of news was overshadowed considerably by the addition of Jeff Gordon as a 13th Chase driver following the events of Richmond.

“We didn’t do anything, quite obviously,” Penske said today according to Dan Gelston of The Associated Press. “When I heard the crew chief on whatever car it was made all this big noise, we didn’t have any deal at all. That’s how people role play stuff in NASCAR.

“I think at the end of the day, it worked out for everybody and we’re moving on.”

NASCAR has since altered rules regarding the spotter’s stand after Richmond, banning the use of digital radios and keeping each team to just one spotter on duty. The AP’s Jenna Fryer reported yesterday that spotters will now have three analog radios at their disposal, up from the original number of two; however, only two of the three analog radios can transmit.

Simon Pagenaud has words with Gabby Chaves after Honda Indy GP of Alabama

Photos: IndyCar
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The rain didn’t stop following the conclusion of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, and neither did the jousting between drivers.

An angry Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud confronted Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves after the race, complaining that Chaves would not let Pagenaud get past him in the closing laps.

Instead of ending up with a hoped-for Top 5, Pagenaud wound up with a ninth-place finish. Chaves, meanwhile, finished 17th, two laps down.

The confrontation turned into a battle of words and profanity between the two drivers, as captured on Twitter by AutoWeek’s Matt Weaver.

Afterward – and after their tempers cooled down somewhat – both Pagenaud and Chaves gave their sides of the confrontation to NBCSN.

Gabby Chaves

First, here’s Pagenaud’s take on things:

“We had a really good race going,” Pagenaud said. “I think we potentially could have been top 5. I was really frustrated with Gabby. He was two laps down and I was stuck behind him, which gave an opportunity to (Scott) Dixon as I was trying to do everything I could to make it happen.

“It’s a real shame because when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. You’ll have better days later, but you want to have everybody on your side when you have a good day. At the moment, he doesn’t have me on his side, let me tell you. It’s a real shame.”

When asked what exactly he said to Chaves, Pagenaud demurred.

“Driver’s stuff,” he said with a slight smile. “We’ve all been there. I’ve been in his position. My side, I played it smart. It is what it is.

“I can’t comment for him. You can ask him the question. I’m not going to make a deal about it, it’s just a shame it ruined my race. We’ll come back stronger. It’s Indy soon, so that’ll put a smile on my face.”

NBCSN then caught up with Chaves for his side of the story.

 

“It’s a tough situation, we had to restart (the rain-delayed race) a lap down,” Chaves said. “Our whole strategy depends on trying to get a yellow and holding our position. Some guys think that the track belongs only to them, they’re the only guys on-track.

“Everyone else who was faster at that point – we were only one lap down to the leader, so we’re still on our strategy and don’t know what’s going to happen – as soon as they got right up next to me on the lead lap, I let them go.

“Simon was the only one who couldn’t drive up to me. I understand his frustration, but he’s the one who has to save fuel to make his strategy work, that’s not our fault, right?”

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