Auto racing • NASCAR issues warning following scandal
Joliet, Ill. • Facing the biggest credibility crisis in its long history, NASCAR issued a stern warning to its drivers and teams Saturday and said it won't tolerate any more attempts to alter the outcome of races.
After a scandal-filled week spent investigating teams and undoing attempts to manipulate its championship field, NASCAR came forward with a series of rules that will change the way teams have called races for years.
NASCAR chairman Brian France told teams he expects them "to give 100 percent" at all times, meeting with them for nearly 20 minutes at Chicagoland Speedway on the eve of the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup 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. We were very clear about that. That's our expectations."
The warning came after an unprecedented week for NASCAR, which has been rocked by allegations of race-fixing since Clint Bowyer spun his car with seven laps remaining last Saturday night at Richmond, the race that completed the 12-driver field for the Chase.
NASCAR was forced to investigate when it became clear that Bowyer spun in an attempt to stop leader Ryan Newman from winning and give teammate Martin Truex Jr. one last chance to earn a Chase berth.
Next came allegations of a scheme to sell track position and it triggered a new investigation 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 had been bumped out of the Chase by the shenanigans of three drivers.
Gordon was pleased with the ruling, but uncomfortable with the way the week developed.
"The integrity of the sport has been put at question," Gordon admitted. "I think we have one of the greatest sports that exists. To see our integrity questioned is very upsetting to me, and I think we, along with NASCAR, have to solve this. I wish it had not happened under these circumstances."
NASCAR has tightened many of the areas that allowed the manipulations to occur in a series of new rules that were outlined for the teams and will begin Sunday. Among them:
• No more deals, no offering a position in exchange for a favor or material benefit, no altering the finish, no intentionally causing a caution, no intentionally pitting to gain advantage for another competitor or intentionally wrecking another 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 will be allowed on the spotter stand. It means Roger Penske can no longer watch the race from his preferred perch on the roof, and NASCAR will install a camera atop every roof to monitor things.
• Digital radios are now banned on the spotter stand, meaning spotters can no longer communicate on a private channel with a team. Spotters will also be limited to two analog radios, scanners and a handheld fan device. All communications from the spotter stand to the team can be monitored by the public.
Nationwide • Pole-sitter Kyle Busch dominated from start to finish, leading 195 of 200 laps en route to winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday
The 13 drivers competing in the Chase, of which the first race is Sunday:
• Matt Kenseth
• Jimmie Johnson
• Kyle Busch
• Kevin Harvick
• Carl Edwards
• Joey Logano
• Greg Biffle
• Clint Bowyer
• Dale Earnhardt Jr.
• Kurt Busch
• Kasey Kahne
• Ryan Newman
• Jeff Gordon
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