Brett Griffin, a spotter for Kaulig Racing, on Door Bumper Clear made a very interesting accusation of NASCAR on his podcast. The accusation was that a NASCAR official came on the radio to talk to Ross Chastain’s spotter after racing Ryan Blaney for the lead. The clip is below followed by the whole quote.
When Blaney hit Ross Chastain, Ross Chastain’s spotter, was fussed at by a NASCAR official…The official went down there and said ‘What are you doing?’, and [Chastain’s spotter] was like, ‘What am I doing, I’m trying to win a race.’ Right, but [the official] didn’t want Ross Chastain racing to be, I don’t know racing I guess Blaney that hard…they didn’t want another shishow on their hands”.Brett Griffin
Full Context and Reaction
Now, it is important to understand the context of this clip. This was part of a larger conversation regarding driver respect in response to the Truck Series race on Friday night, which saw two Championship contenders, Corey Heim and Carson Hocevar, wrecking each other. Essentially, the theory Griffin seemed to be trying to propose was that NASCAR was trying to prevent an accident involving a Championship contender similar to what happened on Friday.
This is supported by comments made by Elton Sawyer in the driver’s meeting. He said, “We saw what not to do on Friday night.”
Fans quickly pointed out how, to them, this seemed like NASCAR was trying to manipulate the race outcome. NASCAR has put the hammer down on that before, most notably with “Spingate” in 2013. Mike Forde, who works with NASCAR in communications, disputed those claims saying that the official was telling both spotters that the drivers needed to “Calm down”.
Basically, there are two sides to this story. There is one side which looks like NASCAR is trying to manipulate the race outcome and allow Ryan Blaney a chance to pass Ross Chastain, and there is the other side which is NASCAR simply asking both drivers to race clean. Obviously, NASCAR has rules on the books to prevent overly aggressive driving, so, they are within their rights to reprimand a driver for not racing cleanly.
Which side is true? We will not know until we hear the radio communications that did occur, which have not been released to the public as of yet. However, we do know that NASCAR has in the past told drivers how to race against Championship contenders.
How NASCAR Expects Drivers to Race Championship Contenders
Nascarman posted a video of a driver’s meeting before the last race of the season from seemingly the late 1980s or early 1990s. Dick Beaty, former NASCAR race director, made it very clear how to race Championship contenders.
Former Cup Series driver, Rick Mast added on Twitter that Beaty would say that every year. Therefore, there is a pattern developing for how NASCAR wants the Championship contenders to be raced.
On top of that, it is just common courtesy to not mess up a Championship Contender’s day. Now, that common courtesy only goes so far, but, naturally, some drivers will take extra care when racing around Championship contenders.
Obviously, it is understandable to tell drivers to not make dumb decisions while racing Championship contenders. However, it is another thing to ask drivers not to race them.
What happened on Sunday at Phoenix? We do not totally know, but, if NASCAR tried to manipulate the outcome of the race, that is a bad look. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with asking drivers to keep it clean out on the race track, and, if that happened, it’s not so egregious.