NASCAR to gather facts of Richmond

Updated: September 17, 2011, 2:14 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHICAGO -- NASCAR is looking into accusations that Paul Menard deliberately brought out a caution in last weekend's Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway to impact the outcome.

The investigation is in response to four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon saying there was something "fishy" about the spinout that opened the door for Menard's teammate, Kevin Harvick, to win.

"In light of the suspicions, we're going to look into it and see if there is anything," NASCAR president Mike Helton said Friday at Chicagoland Speedway. "And a lot of it is going to be interpretation. Certainly, it is on us to understand exactly what all we can find as far as facts are concerned."

Richard Childress denied Friday his team ordered Menard to cause the intentional caution and said it's much ado about nothing.

"There were no team orders despite all the speculation in the media," the team owner said in a statement. "I know Paul Menard well enough that he wouldn't have spun out on purpose even if he had been asked. We are at Chicagoland Speedway to win the race and get a great start toward the championship."

Helton said he has not heard the mystery Channel 2 audio in which Menard allegedly discussed with crew chief Slugger Labbe and Richard Childress Racing executive Mike Dillon whether he should bring out a caution that would allow Harvick to close the gap on Gordon.

But Helton said there was nothing during the officiating of the race that brought suspicion.

"We saw no evidence of anything out of the ordinary as far as actions we had to react to," he said.

Helton added that such a matter is considered a race procedure and indicated it is unlikely punishment would be forthcoming if evidence was found of wrongdoing.

"I'm not saying we can't," Helton said. "We can. But a guy causing a caution during an event is a race procedure. It's like balls and strikes. You don't go back on Monday and change an out call or foul ball call.

"It doesn't say we can't. If we see something that falls under the broader actions detrimental (to NASCAR) or something, it doesn't mean we can't. But more than likely it is going to be considered a race procedure."

And race procedures, Helton noted, "are unappealable and unchangeable."

"The biggest thing is to make sure we get the facts right and police the environment moving forward," Helton said. "We joke about there not being gentlemen's agreements anymore in our sport, but I do feel there is a code of ethics among drivers that is alive and well.

"I'm not necessarily overwhelmed by the chatter so far."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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