The hottest questions in the media center this morning were centered on a very touchy subject.
Would a driver throw the race so his teammate could get into the Chase?
Last week, John Force was accused, and rightfully so, of throwing his semifinal qualifying run in order for his teammate to make it to the finals.
This question was lobbed at every driver who visited the media center at Richmond.
Ryan Newman assured everyone that deals and team strategies have been going on since the arrival of any teammate.
When asked if Tony Stewart, his teammate and boss, would throw the race to assure Newman’s spot in the Chase, Newman seemed comically evasive.
“I have been offering Tony $10 a week to let me win a race,” said Newman. “By the end of the year, we could have had a pretty good little kitty of money built up.”
While Newman didn’t answer the question directly, he did assure everyone that he was a stand-up driver and made every effort he could to win at every race.
Juan Pablo Montoya was much more open and forward about his take on this situation.
“Do you think if Kyle Busch is running second and needs a win to secure a Chase spot, and Denny Hamlin is ahead of him, Hamlin will not be getting out of the gas?”
Montoya went on to say that even though teams do not publicly tell their drivers to back off, they do discuss it with each other.
“They would be stupid to not discuss what would happen if a teammate needed help,” said Montoya.
Montoya denied ever throwing a race in Formula 1 but did say he was told on at least one occasion to do just that.
Jimmie Johnson said there was no deal or discussion about this with Rick Hendrick. “Rick Hendrick would not ask us to do this,” said Johnson.
When pushed harder about helping Mark Martin secure a spot in the Chase, Johnson offered up this synopsis.
“If there was a possibility of Jeff or I letting Mark win a race so he could be in the Chase, and Mark was aware of it, he would get out of his car and whup our butts.”
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out Saturday night. If the opportunity presents itself, will a driver lie down for his teammate?
Photo Credit: David Yeazell, Richmond International Raceway media center.