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September 12, 2013

Did Penske strike a deal to get Logano into Chase?

NORMAN — Tiny Front Row Motorsports asked for a deal from Penske Racing in the closing laps of last weekend’s race at Richmond and then helped make sure Penske’s Joey Logano made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship by having one of its drivers back off, according to an Associated Press review of radio communications.

David Gilliland’s spotter tells his crew that Logano’s team wanted Gilliland’s spot on the track “and they said they’d probably be able to help us in the future,” according to the review of Front Row’s radio communications.

“You tell that spotter up there it better pay big,” replies someone believed to be Gilliland crew chief Frank Kerr.

“Yeah, it’s not the spotter, it’s the whole committee,” the spotter says.

“The committee knows what I’ve been asking for,” Kerr says.

“We’ve got the big dog and all of his cronies,” the spotter replies, a possible reference to Roger Penske, who watches NASCAR races from the spotter stand.

Kerr then says: “Travis knows what I’ve been asking for,” an apparent reference to Penske Racing competition director Travis Geisler.

A short time later, Logano passed Gilliland on a restart and finished 22nd — one spot ahead of Gilliland and good enough for a berth in the Chase field.

“Good job, good job, man,” the spotter says. “Hopefully we’ll get something out of that.”

Trading favors on and off the track is common in NASCAR, but the series is already trying to rebound from the embarrassment of another team manipulating the outcome at Richmond. Earlier this week, NASCAR punished Michael Waltrip Racing and three of its drivers for shenanigans over the final seven laps and took the unprecedented step of pulling one of them, Martin Truex Jr., out of the Chase field.

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