Joey Logano, crew chief: Richmond NASCAR penalty wasn't an attempt to cheat
Even though Team Penske has decided not to appeal the heavy penalty issued to Joey Logano and his No. 22 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team after winning the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, both the driver and crew chief Todd Gordon faced the media on Friday to explain that the infraction was not an attempt to skirt the rules.
Speaking to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (as transcribed by NBC Sports,) Gordon said the organization has opened an investigation to learn how a pinion angle shim wasn’t in contact with its mating surface at all times, the technical reason the sanctioning body stripped Logano of his five playoff points, 25 championship points and suspended Gordon for two races.
“In order for the suspension to actually move, parts have to bend,” Gordon said. “… If every part is infinitely stiff, the system won’t move. It needs to have something flexing. It’s a small amount of flex, but there are parts that move. Through 400 laps at Richmond and how many pit stops and pit road launches and restarts, things move a little bit.
“It was legal when it rolled across the NASCAR inspection platform to start with (before the race), and I would say just race loads and everything else, it became low enough in load that the back of the pinion gap opened up a 32nd of an inch.”
In other words, the seventh-year Cup Series crew chief accepts the decision but wants to make clear that the team wasn’t trying to gain an unfair advantage. Additionally, Logano himself believes the infraction didn’t even make that much of a difference, which he shared during a press conference on Friday at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I think what happened was something that’s very, very small,” Logano said. “What we got in trouble for was something that really didn’t make our car any faster. It wasn’t enough to make it much faster, so, personally inside, I still look at it as a win.
“Obviously, from the outside, we’ve lost all the benefits of the win. We’ve lost the playoff points. We’ve lost a lot of regular points. We’ve lost our crew chief for a couple of weeks. We’ve lost some cash. The penalty is pretty severe. With that being said, it wasn’t like it was a big thing, but the rule is written and it’s black and white. We pushed a little bit too far, and we’ll pay that penalty and move on and attack again.”
Since the 1/32 inch gap was between the pinion shim and the truck arm surface on the right truck arm, both driver and crew chief says this wasn’t even an issue related to swerving.
“This is a right side truck arm,” Gordon said. “With the track bar being attached to the left side truck arm, most of all the pieces, at least from what I understand and maybe I’m missing some things, all the skew-related pieces are going to happen on the left side.
“This wasn’t anything that was pertaining to skew — that’s a word that everybody uses and that’s how the cars kind of run sideways down the racetrack, which helps them aerodynamically. We weren’t in that situation.”
Logano was more succinct.
“It has nothing to do with swerving,” he said.
So while the issue is more or less closed, Logano will keep the win, technically, but he will have to win again to receive an automatic playoff berth. That was stripped alongside his playoff points as part of the penalty.
But even if he doesn’t win for the remainder of the regular season, he appears set to advance on championship points.