Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

NASCAR wants 100 percent, 100 percent of time from teams

JOLIET, Ill. — Weary from the cleanup of racing manipulations, NASCAR sought to restore its credibility Saturday with a stern warning about "artificially altering" events.

NASCAR chairman Brian France told teams he expects them "to give 100 percent" at all times. He met with them for nearly 20 minutes between practices at Chicagoland Speedway in preparation for today's opening race in Sprint Cup's 10-race Chase for the Championship.

"I think we wanted to be very clear and we wanted to reinforce the cornerstone of NASCAR, which is giving your all," France said. "We addressed team rules, a variety of other things, all designed to do what our fans expect, and that means that their driver and their team give 100 percent to finish as high up in a given race as possible."

The warning came after an unprecedented week in which NASCAR was rocked by developments since Clint Bowyer spun his car with seven laps left on Sept. 7 in the race at Richmond.

NASCAR investigated whether Bowyer spun in an attempt to stop leader Ryan Newman from winning the race to give teammate Martin Truex one last chance to earn a Chase berth. Though they could not prove conclusively that Bowyer spun on purpose, the investigation uncovered numerous radio transmissions that indicated race manipulations by Michael Waltrip Racing. NASCAR then hit MWR with heavy sanctions including Truex's removal from the Chase in favor of Newman.

Next came an investigation into allegations of a scheme to sell track position involving deep-pocketed Penske Racing and tiny Front Row Motorsports.

It culminated Friday with France's stunning decision to expand the Chase field to 13 drivers to accommodate Jeff Gordon, who was bumped out last weekend by the tactics of three teams.

Even after that ruling, Gordon was uncomfortable with the way the week developed.

"The integrity of the sport has been put at question," he said. "…(It) is very upsetting to me, and I think we, along with NASCAR, have to solve this."

NASCAR tightened many rules, starting today:

• No deals, no altering the finish, no intentionally causing a caution or wrecking a competitor. The list of things not allowed is a work in progress, NASCAR president Mike Helton said. Penalties can include suspension.

• Only one spotter per team is allowed on the spotter stand. It means Roger Penske can no longer watch from his preferred perch on the roof, and NASCAR will install a camera atop every roof to monitor the actions.

• Digital radios are banned on the spotter stand, so spotters can no longer communicate on a private channel with a team.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief for defending series champion Brad Keselowski, said NASCAR was clear in its meeting.

"I think it got everyone's attention," Wolfe said. "I think everyone should have a pretty clear understanding … if you go out there and run 100 percent to your ability and run a normal race, then everything will be fine."

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