AJ Allmendinger spun off of Turn 4 early in the Coke Zero 400 Saturday night and was never competitive thanks to some damage to the spoiler that he sustained from hitting the inside wall.
After falling a couple of laps off the pace, Allmendinger would not be heard of or seen by viewers at home for the remainder of the race. This was despite Allmendinger and his car owner, Richard Petty, having a heated exchange in the garage, according to Mark Long of the Associated Press.
Allmendinger pulled away from the seven-time NASCAR champion, turned his back on his boss and then stormed away from The King. Allmendinger declined to talk to reporters, but the executive vice president of Richard Petty Motorsports said his driver was merely frustrated by having a strong car and a poor finish.
“I always say the car owner shouldn’t talk to the driver anytime after the race, especially after an accident,” Petty VP Robbie Loomis said. “I think Richard’s been here so many times, he’s been through this stuff and he was just trying to get him to loosen up and let the boys do their stuff on fixing the car and getting back out there. Anytime you talk to somebody at the wrong time, it always causes discussion that needs to be worked out. That’s all that happened.”
The exchange was shown on the Sprint Vision to fans at Daytona and the media in the media center, but not one mention was made of it on the TNT broadcast. When asked about it on Twitter during the race, Kyle Petty asked what happened, apparently as clueless as those watching television.
I have no idea if it was a decision by TNT management to not air the footage or even broach the subject because of Kyle's presence in the booth, or if they didn't have any cameras or reporters near the garage at that time. But neither scenario is excusable, especially the former.
We've talked before about potential conflicts of interest between NASCAR analysts and the teams that they are associated with, and the executives of Fox, TNT and ESPN know full well that those ties to their analysts' organizations and families will come into play at some point during the season. While Kyle and Richard had their rough patches near the end of Kyle's career when he was pulled from his car at Petty Enterprises, TNT has a responsibility to address what could be a pivotal moment in the history of Richard Petty Motorsports given that Allmendinger (and Paul Menard and Elliott Sadler) is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Kyle doesn't have to speak for his father, but he's been in the public eye long enough to be able to form an opinion about what he's witnessing on tape, even if it doesn't portray the relations at RPM in the best of lights.
And if TNT simply didn't have any personnel around the incident, well, I've really got nothing to add to that.