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Penske stands by team in wake of Richmond scandal
LOUDON, N.H. (AP) - Roger Penske was set to surrender his usual spot on the spotter stand for a seat in a suite.
It’s one concession from the fallout of the Richmond scandal.
But Penske, back at a NASCAR track for the first time since the sport’s big embarrassment, insisted his team was in the clear and knew nothing about a deal with Front Row Motorsports to get Joey Logano into the Chase.
“We didn’t do anything, quite obviously,” Penske said Sunday at New Hampshire. “When I heard the crew chief on whatever car it was made all this big noise, we didn’t have any deal at all. That’s how people role play stuff in NASCAR. I think at the end of the day, it worked out for everybody and we’re moving on.”
The arrangement was brought to light in a late race conversation between Front Row team members, who were willing at Richmond to have David Gilliland move aside for Logano in exchange for something it had previously asked for from Penske Racing.
When told to relay that information to Logano’s spotter, the crew chief is told the request for track position is coming from the “whole committee.”
“We’ve got the big dog and all of his cronies,” the spotter said in an apparent reference to team owner Penske and other team employees.
There was no evidence of any wrongdoing on Logano’s analog radio communications, which are accessible to the public.
But NASCAR placed both Penske Racing and Front Row on probation, banned digital radios on the spotter stand - its possible the Penske team communicated over the a private, digital radio - and only one spotter per team will be allowed on the stand.
That means Penske _ believed to have been “The Big Dog” referred to in the Front Row radio chatter - can no longer watch the race from his preferred perch on the roof, and NASCAR has installed a camera atop every roof to monitor things.
Penske said he had only watched one race at a NASCAR track from a spot other than the spotter stand.
“I’m going to find a nice spot in the suite,” he said, “or maybe I’ll stay home and watch on TV.”
His IndyCar Series team signed former Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya to mark an open-wheel return and he’s trying to find a Cup ride in 2014 for Sam Hornish Jr.
Hornish is closing in on a championship in the Nationwide Series but his status for next season is up in the air. With Logano and defending champion Brad Keselowski locked into the two Penske Cup seats, there’s no room at Penske in the top series for Hornish, who has made 93 career Nationwide starts for Penske and has run 130 Cup races for him since 2007.
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