Can there be drama or a conspiracy theory in NASCAR that doesn't involve Jimmie Johnson?
Earlier this week NASCAR came down hard on Penske Racing. Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski both had to replace their rear-end housing prior to last week's NRA 500. This was after NASCAR had confiscated the housing from both cars, as well as other pieces.
It was later decided that the pieces were not within the confines of the rulebook, and both teams were punished.
Logano and Keselowski's crew chiefs were both suspended. The suspension is to last for six point races. However, they will also miss the All-Star race. Both crew chiefs were also placed on probation until Dec. 31 and fined $100,000.
NASCAR didn't stop there.
The car chief and team engineer for both the No. 22 and No. 2 were also suspended for six point races and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Also, the team manager for both cars was handed the same suspension and probation. Keselowski and Logano were additionally penalized 25 championship driver points and 25 owner points.
So how does Johnson fit into all of this?
Well, it just so happens that Johnson and his No. 48 team neighbored the Penske cars in the garage area that race weekend. During a media interview (seen in the video below) leading up to the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, Johnson was asked point blank if he "turned in Penske." Johnson had the following response:
The best officiating in the garage area has always been you neighbor.
With all of that being said, the Hendrick group and the 48 team did not rat out the Penske cars. There are two decisions teams are faced with in the garage area. When the team sees something, they have two options.
One, they go home and they try to adapt it to their car and see if they can make it work. Or they go on the (NASCAR) truck and say something. We don’t say something. We’re a company built on performance. In no way shape or form did anyone from the No. 48 team say something.
I have to say that of all the Johnson conspiracy theories in recent years, this one might be the most plausible.
Think about it like this. A NASCAR garage consists of a lot of people and a lot of moving parts, if you will. That being said, everything that is being done in the garage area is out in the open.
So, if someone on the No. 48 team happened to look across the way, it's plausible they may have noticed something fishy in the Penske area. If they did indeed see something, they very well could have sent someone to notify NASCAR.
However, every argument has two sides. You could just as easily argue that the No. 48 team would have been far too busy with their own tasks to notice anything in the Penske garage. Also, when it comes to suspension parts and such, we could literally be talking about inches.
Is it fair to say that anyone in the No. 48 camp would be able to notice such an adjustment or modification with the naked eye?
Media- I'm missing something here, who cares if a team "ratted us out"Clearly we felt like the parts were legal to begin with...#LetItGo— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) April 19, 2013
Those are just a couple arguments. Depending on which side you take, you could easily come up with a few more.
Whether or not Johnson and the No. 48 team played a role in this we'll most likely never know. I personally err on the side of them not being involved.
I would have to imagine that the last thing the No. 48 team wants to be known as is a bunch of snitches. Johnson also seemed to come across pretty well in the interview when questioned on the topic.
Also, you can't forget about No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus. Knaus has been known for pushing the limits himself in the past. If he were to come across such knowledge, it would make more sense for him to store it away. That way he could attempt to use it in his garage as opposed to ratting out a competitor.
Keselowski addressed this situation best in his above tweet: Let it go.