NASCAR is probing a suspicious spinout by driver Clint Bowyer at a race in Richmond, Va., this weekend over allegations that it was no accident but rather a way to rig the competition so a teammate could make the playoffs.
Bowyer had seven laps remaining in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship on the Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night when his car spun out while he was by himself on the track. The spin led to a chain reaction that benefitted his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr., who ultimately secured a spot in the playoff round.
"He just spun right out. That's the craziest thing I ever saw … He was hemming around on the brakes and jerking the car around, and then the thing just spun out. It was crazy. I don't know what was going on," Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was racing nearby, said after the incident.
The spinout also potentially cost racers Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon spots in the Chase as Joey Logano and Truex took the spots, the latter in a tiebreaker with Newman.
NASCAR Director of Communications Kerry Tharp told ABCNews.com that the organization is reviewing what happened.
"It's in the early stages. Obviously we've been doing our due diligence since early yesterday morning. That will continue today. We'll see where we are after that. We're still reviewing anything," he said.
The fact that Boyer was alone at the time of the spin had raised eyebrows among NASCAR fans, as has the playback of communication between the driver and his team just before the incident.
"Thirty-nine is going to win the race," Bowyer was told via radio. Then he was asked, "Is your arm starting to hurt?"
After a brief pause, Crew Chief Brain Pattie said, "I bet it's hot in there. Itch it."
It was at that point that Boyer's car spins out. In an interview following the race, Boyer denied that the spin out was anything but an accident.
"We had a flat tire or something. It just snapped around," Bowyer said. "I know it's a lot of fun for you guys to write a lot of wacky things. Go ahead if you want to, get creative. But don't look too much into it."
Calls placed today to Bowyer's representation by ABCNews.com were not immediately returned.
Ramsey Poston, a former NASCAR executive who sat on committees that decided penalties, told ABCNews.com that although judgment should he held until NASCAR gathers all of the evidence, what is known so far about the communication between and his team points to a possible fix.
"If that is true, this is a very serious issue that strikes at the credibility of the sport.
"The stakes in Saturday's race were extremely high. Based on the radio chatter it seems the team may have sunk itself with its own congratulations and their thinly-veiled code language," he added.
NASCAR is traditionally forward-thinking in implementing penalties, Poston said, and that a decision here may be a signal to teams in the sport that attempts to manipulate the outcome of races is unacceptable.
"I think NASCAR will consider all options," he said. "They do a good job internally of talking it out. NASCAR doesn't often penalize on day of race. They need a day or two to talk about it and get the facts. They're going to have a lot of discussions about this. They will hear everyone out."