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NASCAR’s ‘Tapegate’ puts driver Chase Elliott in sticky situation

Chase Elliott greets fans before Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Monster Energy Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
Chase Elliott greets fans before Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Monster Energy Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. AP

A NASCAR scandal dubbed “Tapegate” has landed driver Chase Elliott in one sticky situation.

In what could join Spygate, Deflategate and other real or imagined cheating scandals in American sports lore, racing fans spotted a member of Elliott’s team on an NBC Sports broadcast running his hand along the spoiler of Elliott’s car at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. The crew member appeared to be stealthily removing tape from the spoiler.

On Tuesday, NASCAR came down hard on Elliott, hitting the No. 24 team with multiple penalties including taking away the playoff point he earned by winning Stage Two of Sunday’s Cup Series race. The penalties hurt his chances of advancing in the 10-race playoff series and winning the 2017 Cup Series championship.

NASCAR discovered the modification in its post-race inspection.

Jalopnik.com blogger Stef Schrader reported that several fans spotted the crew member’s action and posted what they saw on the social media network Reddit. Posts there claimed the tape could make his car go faster.

Schrader’s post included a short clip of the crew member in action.

Reaction on social media to the No. 24 crew member’s hand movement was swift and plentiful, even generating a #TapeGate hashtag on Twitter.

Some poked fun at the incident.

Others were angered, saying Elliott deserved an even harsher punishment.

Others thought what the crew member did or did not do was as ridiculous as someone taking the air out of a football.

NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski wondered if social media had become NASCAR’s de facto police agency.

Elliott will try to get his season back on track this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

Deflated Footballs Football
In Deflategate, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ended up serving a four-game suspension. Elise Amendola AP

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