Another Chase controversy brewing? This time, it’s Logano, per reports (UPDATED)

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Thought we were done with controversies regarding the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup? We may not be.

An Associated Press report Wednesday revealed there may have been collusion between Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports, both Ford teams, to help Joey Logano into the Chase.

The AP’s Jenna Fryer, who was also first with the penalties doled out to Michael Waltrip Racing on Monday night, reviewed radio transmissions believed to be between Front Row crew chief Frank Kerr, who works on David Gilliland’s No. 38 car, and the team spotter.

The spotter said to Kerr, “We’ve got the big dog and all his cronies,” to which Kerr responded, “Travis knows what I’ve been asking for.” Travis could be a reference to Penske Racing competition director Travis Geisler.

FOX Sports said it also learned of what it deemed “improper communication” between the two teams and said it would have more to report on the Wednesday evening edition of NASCAR RaceHub at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Prior to the Chase reset, Logano ended the race in 10th place in the standings, one point ahead of Jeff Gordon for the 10th and final locked-in position before the two Wild Card entries. He has a win this year, which Gordon does not.

UPDATE, 4:23 p.m. ET: NASCAR has just issued a statement: “NASCAR is aware of reports about the #22 and #38 radio communications at Richmond International Raceway and is looking into it, but has yet to see anything in full context that requires any action.”

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m. ET: I had a viewing of Race Hub and beyond the full radio transmission being revealed, there wasn’t much else to add at this time. There was nothing major from the transmission other than what was written above.

If NASCAR decides to take action as a result of this situation, then the story is advanced; otherwise, there’s nothing particularly new about drivers exchanging positions on the race track as the result of radio communications. It happens in plenty of races before, leading up to, and perhaps even in the Chase to help certain drivers gain positions.

If it can be proven there was collusion between the two teams, and an accompanying radio transmission emerges from Penske Racing to Front Row, then that’s when the next domino will fall.

Either way, it still sucks to be Jeff Gordon right now. He missed out initially on Saturday night, missed out again after the Waltrip penalties came down and would remain on the outside looking in of the Chase if no action is taken regarding this radio chatter.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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