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FOX Sports has exclusively learned of improper communications Saturday night during NASCAR's Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway between David Gilliland's No. 38 team and Joey Logano's No. 22 team that helped Logano earn the final spot in the Chase for Sprint Cup.
NASCAR is looking into the issue and it could lead to another shakeup in the Chase.
Tune into NASCAR Race Hub at 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 for more information.
This caps days of controversy over the race at Richmond that set the field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
During Saturday night's race, Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer came under fire when his late-race spin, which created a caution, was called into question. Critics accused the driver of intentionally spinning, an accusation he denied in his postrace interview but has since largely evaded discussing when asked directly about it. Then radio communication between his teammate, Brian Vickers, and his crew was closely studied, particularly a late pit stop that gave MWR's Martin Truex Jr. a needed position on the track. Stops by his teammates, and Bowyer's spin - whether intentional or not - changed the outcome of the race.
Ryan Newman, leading at the time of the caution, lost his shot at the Chase in the ensuing pit stop. Jeff Gordon, too, was eighth before the caution and ahead of Logano in the standings, but lost his edge on Logano by race's end. After the race, Truex and Logano were in the field; Newman and Gordon outside of it.
A day later, NASCAR announced it was investigating Michael Waltrip Racing and Monday night the sanctioning body called into question Vickers' stop and made the unprecedented move of penalizing all three MWR cars 50 points each for attempting to manipulate the outcome of the race (though president Mike Helton said "there's not conclusive evidence that the 15 spin was intentional"). That punishment left Truex outside of the field as the penalty was assessed to the points after the race, but before the 12 drivers were reseeded for the Chase. Truex fell to 17th in the standings and lost his wild-card berth.
Newman moved up and into the Chase, but Gordon was still left outside of it although his outcome had also been impacted - something NASCAR stated it could not alter as a "ripple effect" of the other activities.
Gordon was the first driver outside of the Chase, edged by Logano. He took the high road on his Twitter account.
Though he questioned Bowyer's lack of punishment - his 50-point penalty was assessed after the Richmond race but prior to the Chase reseeding, so it effectively has no impact as the field was reset based on bonus points for wins. Bowyer still starts with the same amount of points as other winless Chase drivers who made the field based on being in the top 10 in the standings.
Gordon tweeted earlier Wednesday: "Thanks to everyone for the overwhelming support this week. U have been heard loud and clear. Now it's time to shift focus to next ten races."
Gordon had made the Chase field all but one previous season since the format was introduced in 2004.
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