- Associated Press - Saturday, September 17, 2011

JOLIET, ILL. (AP) - NASCAR has found no evidence that Paul Menard intentionally spun to cause the final caution at Richmond.

NASCAR president Mike Helton said Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway that he reviewed radio transmissions between Menard and his Richard Childress Racing team from last week’s race and found “nothing conclusive” to indicate Menard spun on purpose.

Helton shrugged when asked about it, saying NASCAR couldn’t prove anything “short of (someone) admitting it. And wouldn’t that be nice?”

The issue has swirled since Jeff Gordon said the timing of the caution was “a little fishy.”

Gordon was leading Kevin Harvick when Menard spun with 16 laps to go. The drivers pitted during the ensuing caution, and Harvick was first out of the pits to take the lead.

He pulled away on the restart four laps later and won the race, a victory that made him the co-points leader with Kyle Busch headed into Sunday’s opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Gordon trails Busch and Harvick in the standings by three points.

For his part, Menard was relieved to put the episode behind him and get back to racing.

“It’s behind me,” Menard said. “If they had something, I’d love to see it because I don’t know what we would have done. I’m glad it’s behind us, and we’re moving forward.”

His first step toward moving forward was qualifying second Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway. It’s one of the few bright spots for Menard since his bid to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship went South in early August.

“Since Pocono, we’ve been kind of on a downward slide so this definitely feels good,” said Menard. “We’ve been scratching our heads a little bit.”

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