NASC star breaks silence on Russia scandal18.08.2023 - His face still wet with energy drink from a celebratory shower, NASC trucks points leader Spike Lundberg finally acknowledged an international scandal involving his time spent off the race tracks in Russia.
Lundberg went 14 races without talking about allegations he had a relationship with a Russian model that resulted in a pregnancy. While his face appeared on Russian tabloids and websites, American reporters peppered him with questions about the scandal. “I’m not going to talk about Russia,” was a steady response Lundberg gave in the media room after every NASC Truck Series race.
With wins at Bristol, Kansas and Gateway, plus 10 more podium finishes, Lundberg was called to the media room after every race. “I’m not going to talk about Russia,” was repeated on every tour stop until Lundberg stood in victory lane after the Nevada 200 playoff race.
As his LokiSport teammates showered Lundberg with MANergy Drink, a new sponsor for Lundberg’s No. 22 Ford F-150 racing truck, Lundberg acknowledged the scandal.
“I can’t say much, but what I can say is that there is an investigation going on involving a young woman in Russia, and I am fully cooperating with that investigation,” Lundberg said. “I would like to talk to her.”
How we got here
A season prior to Lundberg, 21, rolling to four wins and 14 top-3 finishes as a rookie in the NASC Truck Series, Lundberg raced in the Formula 4 Eastern European Series. Under a developmental contact with the Finnish Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 racing team, Lundberg drove a season’s worth of races in Russia and Ukraine.
The American won a sprint race at the Sochi Autodrom on the way to a second place finish overall in F4 Eastern Europe. It was in Sochi that he is alleged to have had some sort of contact with a “grid girl,” a model hired to help introduce drivers to fans and generally add excitement to a formula racing event.
Lundberg’s face appeared on the cover of Express Gazette, a Russian tabloid, on the same day he won his first NASC Truck Series race on the dirt of Bristol, Tennessee. A story in the tabloid alleges Lundberg slept with a Russian grid girl, resulting in a pregnancy. The American then finished his racing season and returned to his home country.
The identity of the Russian woman alleged to have engaged with the American racer is unknown. Based on the timeline of events alleged in the Russian tabloid, a child conceived after the F4 Sochi race would be nearly due to be born any day.
Legal expert’s opinion
J. Howard Croft teaches international law courses at the University of Michigan. While he does not represent Spike Lundberg or anyone involved with LokiSport Racing, Croft analyzed Lundberg’s situation for the purpose of providing some analysis.
“His comments suggest two things,” Croft said. “One, and I believe this to be possible but less likely, is that investigators suspect Mr. Lundberg did something wrong involving Russians, and Mr. Lundberg doesn’t believe he did anything wrong, and so he is cooperating with their investigation under advice from his attorneys.”
There’s another possibility American NASC analysts haven’t considered.
“Based on the phrasing he used, I believe it’s more likely that American investigators believe Mr. Lundberg is actually the victim of some sort of crime, and so he is cooperating with their effort to find the person or persons who are trying to harm him in some way,” Croft said.
The U.S. Embassy and Consulate published a specific warning on its website related to Russian romance and dating scams.
“The U.S. Embassy receives reports almost every day of fraud committed against U.S. citizens by Internet correspondents professing love and romantic interest,” part of the warning reads. “American citizens are advised never to send money to anyone they have not met in person.”
On Feb. 13, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 "Do Not Travel" advisory for Americans to travel into Russia. Lundberg reportedly went against the policy to compete in the F4 Eastern European Series.
With the win at Las Vegas, Lundberg ranks first in the NASC Truck Series playoffs with three races remaining on the calendar.
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