Some of the best moments in NASCAR come not from the action on the track but the chatter in the drivers’ radios. Before every race, each NASCAR driver is mic’d up, along with their respective crew chiefs. This allows teams to communicate during the race to strategize, celebrate and, every now and then, let their tempers run wild. The live microphones give both fans and NASCAR officials the opportunity to listen in on the team chatter during and after the race.
Chase Elliott: “I don’t know what’s happened to this thing dude!”
Alan Gustafson: “I do, I do. Just be nice and smooth with it. Take care of it. We’ll get you fixed. Do the best you can.”
Elliott: “Did that little bit of air really kill us that bad?”
Gustafson: “No, no. Nope. I know the problem. I’ll tell you later.”
Once the race was over, Chase Elliott’s crew chief came on the radio again to say, “Sorry about that. We deserved a much better finish than that, had a better car.”
NASCAR Fans Speculate About No. 9 Team’s Cryptic Conversation
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season hasn’t been the best for Chase Elliott. In the first six races of the season, the Cup Series champion only captured one top-5 finish.
Both Chase Elliott and his fans hoped the NASCAR race in Richmond would provide the much-needed change in luck for the No. 9 driver. Unfortunately, however, though he got off to a strong start, things went downhill on Lap 253.
Chase Elliott – Richmond 2022 pic.twitter.com/23JAas4A9I— NASCAR PICTURES (@Nascarpixtures) April 7, 2022
Three laps following a four-tire pit stop, Elliott dropped from the front of the field to 18th. This incident sparked the puzzling conversation between Elliott and his crew chief. But what did the conversation mean? What did Alan Gustafson know that he couldn’t tell his driver with the ears of fans and NASCAR officials on them?
With no answers from Chase Elliott or the rest of the No. 9 team, fans took to social media to speculate. Some fans believe the ambiguous exchange points to cheating. Most, however, think that Elliott and Gustafson were referring to a problem with the tires. If the left side tires were accidentally installed on the right side, the Chevrolet would be virtually impossible to drive.
Because the No. 9 crew made a mistake the week prior at COTA that resulted in an enraged Chase Elliott, it’s certainly possible that Gustafson knew of another mistake but withheld the information to keep his driver calm until the race was over. That said, Chase Elliott’s team avoided penalties after Richmond, so if a mistake was made, they managed to sneak it past NASCAR inspectors.