NASCAR Responds to Accusations of Race Manipulation at Phoenix

NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 Race in Phoenix.

Getty Ross Chastain and Ryan Blaney race in Phoenix.

The 2023 NASCAR season concluded with the November 5 Championship 4 Cup Series race at Phoenix. Three new champions were crowned by the end of the weekend. A celebratory moment for the sport. But it didn’t come without controversy.

During the November 6 episode of the Door Bumper Clear podcast, co-host Brett Griffin said in the Cup finale, a NASCAR official visited with the spotter for the No. 1 car of Ross Chastain and questioned why he was racing so hard with Ryan Blaney

“So when Blaney hit Ross Chastain, Ross Chastain’s spotter was fussed at by a NASCAR official,” Griffin said. “The official went down there and said, ‘What are you doing?’ And the guy’s like, ‘What am I doing? I’m trying to win a race.’ But he didn’t want Ross Chastain to be, I don’t know, racing against Blaney that hard. Because why, here comes Truex in the picture. They didn’t want another s***show on their hands.”

Mike Forde, who works for NASCAR communications, responded to Griffin’s remarks on X.

“Not true,” Forde wrote. “The Official saw the spotters of the 1 & 12 getting heated during the battle for the lead. He spoke with both spotters to de-escalate any unnecessary confrontations. ‘Calm down.’ At no point did he tell the 1 spotter to tell Chastain to move over/not race hard.” 

Ross Chastain Battles Ryan Blaney for Lead

Ross Chastain was the best car at Phoenix, leading a race-high 157 laps. But it didn’t come easy. The watermelon farmer battled with eventual Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney for much of the race.  

The Team Penske driver tried unsuccessfully to clear the Trackhouse car on numerous occasions and grew visibly frustrated by those repeated failed attempts. At one point in the final stage, the No. 12 pilot expressed that frustration when he aggressively drove into the rear of the No. 1 car, sending it up the track. 

Moments later, the interaction occurred between the spotters and the NASCAR official. 

NASCAR Provides Fans With Reason to Question Its Judgment

Fans must decide on which version of events they believe to be true. With the DBC crew, fans understand the various co-hosts can exaggerate. It’s sometimes a case of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story. 

Unfortunately, NASCAR officials provided fans with a reason to question their judgment at Phoenix with an embarrassing blunder before the November 3 Truck Series race when it was discovered that the restart zone was designated in the wrong location. 

NASCAR extended the restart zone to begin the 2023 season on a trial basis. After the first five races, including the first one on the mile-long short track, the governing body, based on driver feedback, reverted to the 2022 restart zone dimensions. Those modified dimensions were all correctly implemented for the second visits of the season to Daytona, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. (Fontana didn’t have a second race.)   

Officials discovered the mistake late and opted not to make the change before the Trucks race. The correct restart zone was in place for both the Xfinity and Cup Series title races. 

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