MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Roush Fenway Racing doesn't plan to take legal action against Michael Waltrip Racing for what it characterized as the theft of a sway bar unless there is evidence that the piece has been duplicated.
Team president Geoff Smith said the issue would not have surfaced at all had Toyota general manager Lee White not insinuated that Roush's team of Carl Edwards intentionally cheated at Las Vegas.
Edwards was docked 100 points and his crew chief suspended for six weeks after the oil can lid in his car was discovered off during postrace inspection.
"But for Lee White, in spite of his education and position, engaging in this vituperative slander of our organization we wouldn't have said anything," Smith said on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Waltrip acknowledged on Saturday that his team had the sway bar that team owner Jack Roush accused a Toyota team of stealing last season.
But Waltrip insisted that it wasn't a theft, that the bar accidentally wound up at his shop after the September race at Dover and that nobody realized it belonged to Roush Fenway Racing until that organization called to inquire about it in January.
"Accidents happen, mistakes happen," Waltrip said Saturday. "If you look inside this garage area today there's over 70 racing vehicles in here and stuff gets slung everywhere ... I could see why he would be upset. He feels like he was wronged and he's mad about it."
Smith said Michael Waltrip Racing officials gave RWR written assurance that the bar was not duplicated and that technology from it would not be used.
But Smith discounted Waltrip's comment that the bar wasn't taken on purpose and that there was no attempt to duplicate it.
"We had people from their organization tell us [what happened]," Smith said. "You also have to remember the bar was blue. There are no other blue sway bars. If you're a mechanic you know that is not yours.
"It wasn't an accident that the color was sandblasted off so the source of origin as a Roush part was not generally known."
Waltrip said he had no knowledge that the piece was sandblasted to hide its identity and that somebody from his team called a vendor to have it duplicated as Roush alleged.
"I don't have knowledge of any of that," he said Saturday. "I heard it was painted blue and when we figured out that it wasn't ours then it was set off to the side and eventually returned."
Smith said MWR gave Roush Fenway the name of two employees that were involved in the incident. He said neither was with the organization when the incident came to light in January.
"They weren't fired over this," he said. "They were gone in ordinary year-end turnover stuff."
Smith added that he was very surprised NASCAR said the issue needed to be decided between the two teams, that "there isn't some disciplinary mechanism for crimes that are committed within their territory for that behavior when you can get hauled into the trailer and whipped for making an offhand remark that is over the line."
"That stealing is business as usual is just an offensive concept to me as it was to Dale Earnhardt Jr., but wasn't to Jeff Gordon. I thought he was raised better than to believe a statement like that."
Earnhardt said whoever stole the part should have his hard card revoked and banned from the garage. Gordon said Roush shouldn't take the issue seriously and made a joke about it, saying the FBI needed to be brought in to investigate.
Roush responded by facetiously saying, "Jeff Gordon probably said it best when he said it's hilarious."
Asked if the incident was over, he added, "It's not over, but it is funny."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.