The Incriminating Menard Tapes: Should Anything Be Done?

The discussion here at TNI regarding Paul Menard and his spin at Richmond began on Wednesday.  One of our readers, Fireball Doowah, submitted the following question to ATIW:

Jeff Gordon alleged that the late spin by Paul Menard at Richmond was intentional. Do you think there is anything to this, other than sour grapes?

I responded with the following answer:

I guess anything is possible.  As tore up as Menard’s car was, it’s not implausible to believe that he just lost it.  But Menard spinning out with 17 laps to go did not win Harvick the race.  The late pit stop and a strong race car did.

Now, thanks to Jay Busbee and his guys over at “From the Marbles,” Menard’s radio traffic from the end of the race is available for you to hear and you can decide for yourself.  Click here to hear it.  And, to balance this out, click here to read Menard’s comments to SBNation regarding the incident and his radio transmissions.

…Now that you’ve had a chance to listen and see Menard’s thoughts, what do you think?  The conversation between Menard and Stevie Reeves certainly doesn’t appear to be innocent.  And the voice asking Slugger to switch over to channel two towards the end sounds like it could be that of RCR’s Mike Dillon.  The obvious connection here is that the message over on channel two was that it was time for Menard to get involved.  Near the end, the driver and crew chief claim the spin was caused by a down tire, but that right rear sure looked like it was up to me.

Moving along, whether you think what Menard did was dirty, or just racing, hear me out.  Like I said on Wednesday, Menard spinning out did not, I repeat, did not win the race for Kevin Harvick.  Yes, it certainly gave his team a shot, but it didn’t win them the race.  If Gordon’s team is able to maintain their track position coming off pit road, Menard spinning would be a non-issue.  Gordon would have had the preferred line into turn one on the restart and chances are Harvick wouldn’t have gotten by him.  But quick work by the 29 pit crew and a strong enough race car to hold off Gordon and Carl Edwards is what won the race for Harvick.

If this really did go down like it appears it might have, it definitely looks bad for everyone involved.  But I can’t say that it really surprises me.  Teams have certainly done worse to try and win races and championships.

Now it’s your turn.  If you are NASCAR, would you issue anyone a penalty?  Do you think it can it really be proven that Menard spun on purpose?  Or do you just bring everyone behind closed doors and tell them in the usual NASCAR way that this is not how things will be done.  Let’s hear it.

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39 Responses to “The Incriminating Menard Tapes: Should Anything Be Done?”

  1. dave says:

    Nascar won’t do anything anyway. It sure sounded extremely fishy to me. You might ask Jeff Gordon why his break light was on. Maybe the 18 would have won.

  2. Tim says:

    Hum . . . very interesting. Even if not true, it brings NASCAR racing into question yet again. These type of incidents have gone on for years and will continue for years to come. Some just get caught and some don’t.

  3. run24guy says:

    I disagree totally and completely with you T.C. Gordon’s car got better as a run went on. High or low line on the restart wouldn’t have mattered – he was consistently giving up a few spots on restarts during the second half of that race, if not earlier. RCR knew that. The spin, if intentional (and I believe it was), was absolutely meant to take advantage of Gordon’s weakness. No one was catching him if it stayed green, but the race was wide-open if everyone bunched up.

  4. russ says:

    Whether the spin won the race or not is irrelevant. IT WAS THE ONLY CHANCE HARVICK HAD! If they hadn’t done it, Gordon wins. The only wonder is why Richmond? Maybe it is more common than we had thought.

    The real question is what will be done about it. For years the impression among long time fans has been that Nascar was heading the way of WWE. Which is of course entertainment over substance. Either they continue do the road they are on, which is the death of a thousand cuts, or they draw a line and put a stop to it.

  5. Rocck says:

    Menard can claim all he wants that he had a flat. But considering there are no pictures or video of that tire, how can anyone be sure. As much as I like RCR, I think they got away with one here. And I think that Nascar will have a small private chat with Richard about making sure that doesn’t happen again.

  6. Craig says:

    If they ever prove a case of intentional “team orders” there should be massive penalties for all team cars (big points and dollars). We don’t need any of the seedy elements of Formula-1 entering NASCAR. It’s one thing to let a teammate lead a lap for a bonus point or help draft, but it’s quite another to have a team car intentionally wreck itself or pull over for another. I’ll give Menard the benefit of the doubt, but with his dad sponsoring that team I could see RCR using the 27 to benefit the other teams. The sponsor blow back wouldn’t be bad.

  7. ronmon says:

    That’s probably not enough evidence to convict someone in a court, but it is clear enough to convince me that there was hanky panky going on.

    Repeatedly stating that they didn’t need a caution, switching radio channels, then the spin happens, was pretty obvious. More than one fellow F1 fan has remarked on the similarity between this and the intentional Nelson Piquet Jr. crash in Singapore 2008. It’s why he is running 3rd tier NASCAR now instead of the pinnacle of motor sports. Menard will probably get a bonus.

    Other racing series punish cheaters, NASCAR rewards them.

  8. MS says:

    I suppose now all the team owners will be looking for self sponsored 2nd or 3rd tier drivers so they too can have on their team someone to “take a Menard”…er…dive. And get paid load$ for it no less.

    WaHoooo! Have at it boys!!!

  9. grumpiestoldman says:

    I hope this brings on a full-blown RCR vs. Hendrick war.

  10. Kim says:

    this makes me sick to my stomach. First that it happened- I thought NASCAR was different – and because Sir Richard will never be touched.

    And let’s not be shy here, it DID happen, And @run24guy makes a great point about Gordon on the restarts.

    It’s the beginning of the Chase. NASCAR won’t dock points on anyone for anything. And if they have one of their super secret little talks, the impression to the fans will still be that they let this slide. I already have a little less respect for RC after the Busch beat down earlier this year, This doesn’t help it. Doesn’t help how I will look at Harvick or Menard, either.

    And that makes me sad, I don’t want to lose respect for the sport. It’s one thing to not like the personality of a driver or owner, it’s another when you begin to question their integrity. That’s when NASCAR turns into the WWE and it’s the beginning of the end.

  11. Sue Rarick says:

    RCR, Nascar and the people who’s living depends on Nascar may want this to all go away, may be dissapointed. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck….it’s probably a duck.

    I can’t believe John Menard will be to happy with his company being tied to what would be considered throwing a race. John Menard is in the drivers seat here. RCR needs his money, Menard doesn’t need RCR. And he will be more concerned with his company’s image.

    It took a while for the F1 scandal to get legs. We will see how long this will run.

  12. allisong says:

    I agree with Russ and run24guy – of course it didn’t guarantee them a win, but it gave them a chance. They knew they were a good short run car, and the 24 was better on long runs. The laps are winding down and there was no way they would catch the 24, so voila, create your own short run!

    For the past few days, I’ve gotten more and more disgusted with the way the NASCAR media types have handled this, mostly on SIRIUS. The hosts all ridicule the very idea that a team would do this, and up to this point have refused to actually listen to the evidence. Their version of probing questions is, “He said this about your team, what do you say in response?” Well, gee, what do you THINK their going to say? How about listening to the evidence and asking RELEVANT questions, like, “Why would the #27 spotter feel the need to keep Menard informed of the status of the race for the lead when he (Menard) was multiple laps down, and why indicate the need or lack of need of a caution?” “Why would Menard feel that last part important enough to ask his spotter to confirm whether a caution was needed or not?”

    But no, they don’t want to ruffle anyones feathers, so they will bury their heads in the sand. Sad, really.

  13. ronmon says:

    @MS

    Yeah, he “pulled a Menard” to help his team mate. I think this could catch on. Maybe it could even go the Google route and get verbalized. I can hear Bestwick now, “Reutiman just ‘Menarded’ to keep Truex from going a lap down”.

  14. MS says:

    @grumpiestoldman said:

    “I hope this brings on a full-blown RCR vs. Hendrick war.”

    The problem is it would be asymetric warfare. Hendrick doesn’t have anybody that would willingly “take a Menard” for the team.

    But then Gordon is really accomplished at dumping people without crashing himself out so that probably evens it out. JJ should take some lessons from him. :)

  15. dave says:

    Is Austin Dillon’s father the spotter for Paul Menard? You know like a family (or company) affair?

  16. Dave in Indy says:

    Of course it was a blatant spin. I knew it when it happened. No video replay. That is absurd! So ESPN/ABC was in on it by not following it up.

    Will NASCAR do anything about it? Heck no, they were in on it, too! How do I know that? Easy. The 51 spun and was closer to the track and they threw no caution. The 27 spins in much more harmless fashion and they immediately throw it.

    Stuff like this will always happen (but doesn’t make it right) – In the 80′s in Trans Am, Jack Roush told Pete Halsmer that he needed “to slow (Jim) Miller down,” sp Halsmer ran him off the track. In the 90′s, Mario Andretti’s tranny broke in the Indy 500. He asked if Michael (Andretti) needed a caution. When he was told that he did, he drug the brake, so his car would stop on course.

    Long story short, Harvick shouild lose the “extra credit” /seeding for this one, ill-gotten win.

  17. T.C. says:

    Dave: Menard’s spotter is Stevie Reeves. Austin’s father Mike is RCR’s VP of Competition.

  18. Mike S. says:

    NASCAR won’t do anything about this, no matter what evidence surfaces. This is no more than a team-level example of the phantom debris cautions that NASCAR itself utilizes to bunch up the field at strategic times during a race. It’s just another attempt to manipulate the outcome.

  19. Christopher F. says:

    Like fighting in hockey, the whole concept of “taking someone out” in NASCAR should be banned. Maybe it was cool in a different decade, but its just lame WWE-style stuff now.

    Intentionally wreck someone? Sit the next race.

  20. Keith_Kagee says:

    Mike Helton says NASCAR “still looking at it”. You know, them boys are getting older, harder and harder to see with each passing day.;)

  21. beatcuff says:

    ok i’m confused. so its ok to ‘bump and run’ or outright wreck for a win or even a position; its ok to race the leader hard to stay on the lead lap – which slows that leader to help a teammate; its ok to ‘block’ in the pits; its ok to spin out someone as payback even if it ends up involving other cars,; its ok to let a teammate by to lead a lap; its ok to swap crew members mid-race or help a teammate during the race in garage; its ok to radio there is debris on the track; but heaven forbid you spin out for caution – oh wait didn’t JR do that a couple of years ago.

  22. Mac says:

    Do y’all know why Nelson Piquet, Jr. is racing in NASCAR? It was because he did exactly the same thing in F1. (He had to wreck harder to bring out the Safety Car.)
    If Gordon loses the championship by three or fewer points, this is a big deal. If not, it’s a “stealing the catcher’s signals” thing.
    I had a team owner tell me (over the radio) to hold up the leader as our team car was running third.
    First, I was going as fast as I could in a torn-up car. Second, I told them “Don’t say that kinda s… over the radio.” Third I was PLANNING to be difficult to pass, but after the radio transmission I couldn’t do anything. Fourth I never drove for that team again.

  23. MS says:

    @ronmom

    LOL, I think it will start with the spotters and go from there!

    spotter: “Yellow, yellow. The 28 just Menarded so the 49 can get a restart up front, let’s come in for four.”

    driver: “Copy.”

  24. robert says:

    Yes, beatcuff, Dale, Jr. did purposely spin to bring out a caution at Richmond a few years ago. His mistake was in admitting over the radio that he needed a caution so he purposely spun the vehicle. NASCAR didn’t like it and penalized him by making him sit in the pits for a couple of laps and then fined him the next week. IMO, this type of stuff should be treated just like the fake debris cautions by throwing roll bar padding out of the window. Harvick shouldn’t be punished but Menard should be and the punishment should fit the crime – park him a few laps (although wouldn’t have made any difference with Menard so many laps down) and a suitable fine.

  25. Andrew says:

    Without even listening to the audio or reading Menards commenst I’ll say that NASCAR should sit everyone down privatley and tell them in their usualy NASCAR like way that this is not how we do things. You could never prove that Menard spun intentionally anyway. The teams are to smart to come right out and even suggest it over the radio.

  26. Dave in Indy says:

    Andrew – I doubt that NASCAR will talk to anyone, unless it’s just trying to stem any possible controversy. My question again, is why did they even throw the caution in the first place, when they didn’t throw it for Landon Cassil in the 51. And if it’s because Menard has more stature / status than Cassill, well that needs a “finger wag,” NASCAR’s way, too.

  27. Keith says:

    The whole teammate thing is wrong it should be you and your own team against the other 42 teams. What is the difference between Menard spinning to help his teammate and someone letting a teammate pass them to lead a lap or changing pit crews to help your teammate win a race or championship or having your mechanics help rebuild a teammates car in the garage to pick up more points or sharing notes and setups it is all an advantage over single car teams and should be disallowed.

  28. Debbie says:

    Boy those Hendrick boys sure like to whine when they don’t win, don’t they? What about all the cheating they have done in the past?

    I remember one season when a Hendrick driver had to finish 42 or better to win the championship, so what did Hendrick do? He entered another car in the race and had them drop out after a few laps so his driver is guarenteed the championship. This was back before the limit on the number of cars on a team and before the start and parks were common. I am not sure if it was Jeff Gordon or Terry Labonte’s championship, but it was done.

    Also there was the time in Bristol a few years ago when Jr spun out on purpose cuz he needed a caution. The idiot admitted it as well. What was done? Nothing because of his name and who he drove for.

    Quit whinning Jeff and go race like you used to without the excuses!

  29. Joe Thompson says:

    I feel that NASCAR can not go back and change the race results, just like in any other sport, when a bad call is discovered after the fact. But I do think NASCAR Offiicals should investigate and all the facts they can, including the recordings of all the radio communications, especially the ” Channel 2 “. If after they investigate, they determine that RCR teams orchestrated a false Menard spin, to cause a caution to tighen up the race, then NASCAR in my Opinion should Supsend Harvick and the 29 car for the next race. This would send a stern and serious messege to all teams that this underhanded, unscrupleless, false action behavior will not be tolerated.

  30. fireball doowah says:

    @Debbie – Neil Bonnett finished dead last after turning exactly 3 laps in an RCR car at the 1993 Atlanta Race (the last race in 1993). Ironhead went on to win his 6th championship by 80 points over Rusty Wallace.

    http://racing-reference.info/race/1993_Hooters_500/W

    Teammates have helped each other since the introduction of multi-car teams. I’m not in any way defending Menard’s action, just simply stating that the amount of assistance has been escalating for years. The real question is will team orders dictate a potential race winner to pull over and let a championship contender pass — I certainly hope not, but I don’t think it’s beyond a possibility. And, you can bet that this brouhaha will result in team orders being planned out in advance, and radio communication will not be as obvious.

  31. Jay says:

    Must be getting old, seem to remember Joe Nemechek in the #25 becoming a rolling chicane at a Bristol race. Rusty was leading and Jeff was second, and able to cut the gap in a hurry.

    Must of been a coincidence.

  32. Mike says:

    @Debbie: Junior was docked 25 points for his intentional Bristol spin, so I’d say something was done.

  33. Jim Allan says:

    Of course it happened the way it looks. If NASCRAP wants to stop it that’s easy too. Put Harvick back to the end of the lead lap and park Menard at least 5 races and fine the owner $250,000. That would get everyone’s attention!

  34. Andy D says:

    I’ll wait for further evidence before declaring this a deliberate spin. I won’t be surprised if the allegations are true, I’ve suspected that this goes on for a long time.

    However, we all know that it doesn’t make a bit of difference. NASCAR would have called a debris caution with 7-10 laps to go anyway. Whether Menard’s spin was purposeful or not, there was going to be a pit stop.

  35. Bill C says:

    We are going to see more of this during the Chase. Multi car teams will run interference for the Chase cars. If I want to see blocking, I will watch football. Don’t be surprise by anything Harvick will do and we all know Childress is underhanded. Let the Chase cars run alone and keep the other cars out of the race. No other sport lets all teams compete with the playoff teams. Nascar’s silence is deafening.

  36. Brian says:

    I do agree with other comment…..even “if” there was something, not sure nascar would do anything. You also wrote…”Menard spinning had nothing to do with Harvick winning” Good opinion, but they way you tell it was like you are at a bar and telling 10 buddies how you know this for a fact. Sounds like you are on the 29 band wagon….if so tell us all you are jumping on….but don’t jump on another one with 2 races to go.

  37. Newracefan says:

    First I truly belive that this is Gorden head games at their finest. Second I do not think Paul would actually intentionally spin out but I do believe that his crew chief left him out there on purpose in the hopes that the tire would shread or something and cause a debris caution. It makes no sense to leave a 80 something laps down car out there who would lose no positions with a possible bad tire. Absolutely none, it’s not like they couldn’t afford another set. I also believe that there could have been a discussion of I’m thinking about going after the 17 but will hold off if it will cause a problem for another RCR car let me know early on that went on when they were fixing Paul’s car. But then maybe I give them all too much credit. The whole thing still reeks of manipulation and yes I do agree with the person who said they knew Jeff sucked on restarts all day because even I knew that. Hopefully Nascar publically said we see nothing and privately call RC and said if we even see anything remotely like this again it will not be good for RCR. I know everyone wants transparency in the sport but I’m OK with that because they would have only punished the 27 and it was really the 29 that got the reward. Then they need to call Jack, Rick etc and relay there concern. I’m betting calls like that have happened because it’s really the only way to keep the rumor mill from getting a hold of it. Ahh the drama of it all

  38. Newracefan says:

    And I can’t believe I spelled GordOn wrong. Whoops

  39. Newracefan says:

    One question TC do other drivers routinely get blow by blow updates on how their team mates are doing? I listen to JJ scanner and have heard Chad or Earl say something about others but never that detailed or that often. Shouldn’t they be paying attention to their own car and not watching someone else?

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