Team orders in Richmond

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Did he or didn't he? Chase controversy overshadows new chase roster.

Team orders.

These are things that have seriously messed with the Formula One ranks in the past. Never before have they been incredibly prominent in stock car racing.

Last night’s Chase deciding race at Richmond brought about some serious questions regarding a late spin by Clint Bowyer that bunched the field up and allowed his team mate Martin Truex Jr. to make it into the ten-race post season.

Onboard footage hears Brian Pattie, Clint Bowyer’s crew chief saying odd things over the radio just prior to the spin.

“Is your arm starting to hurt?” Pattie asked. “I bet it’s getting hot in there. Itch it.”

Seconds later, Bowyer spun out.

Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.
Michael Waltrip, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.

Photo by: Getty Images

Television coverage did not play along and immediately looked into the incident after the Chase implications were realized. Bowyer was asked straight up about it after the race, to which he seemed to be a little off with his response.

“I know it’s a lot of fun for you guys to write a lot of whacky things. Go ahead if you want to. Get creative. But don’t look too much into it,” said Bowyer. “I think we had something going wrong. I had so much wheel, by the time I got back to the gas he was underneath my. I spun out.”

The evidence continued to stack up against Bowyer when Dale Earnhardt Jr. was interviewed, as Jr. said “He was jerking the car around…I don’t know what was going on.”

“He just spun the car right out. It was the craziest thing I ever saw.”

The incident ended up effecting more than just Truex as both Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon were only laps away from locking their spots in the Chase. Both drivers were asked about their thoughts on the incident. Neither had seen what happened, but both said they would be upset if something was done intentionally.

Now it is time to look at the opinion I want to express. Why haven’t we seen more of this in stock car racing?

Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Getty Images

Team orders in Formula One are incredibly blatant. It’s almost impossible to do something, other than straight up pretend your car is broken in Formula One to not be noticed doing something for your team mate.

It seems to be an easier task to accomplish in stock car racing, especially the short tracks when speeds are lower and a spin can go nearly unpunished.

The part that boggles my mind is that the way the crew had to alert Bowyer of the team orders was so blatant. With technology today, they couldn’t have installed a small light in the car, or even come up with something MUCH less obvious to say to the driver to get him to take action?

I do not doubt for one minute that this was the plan. In Michael Waltrip Racing’s earlier years, there was a controversy at Daytona when the 15 took the pole, but it was found that a jet fuel like substance was found in the intake. From what I have heard, every team in the garage was using it, as it helped get heat generated on a short qualifying attempt, but the Waltrip car just went overboard.

So, while I would rather have seen a Jeff Gordon, or a Ryan Newman in the chase, I do applaud the team for changing circumstances and getting Truex in. Now he had better go get himself a championship, Bowyer that is.

Grey area is what stock car racing today is all about. Just ask Chad Knaus.

And remember folks, this is just my opinion on the matter. We will see what comes of it in the days to come.

UPDATE:

It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation that NASCAR is facing now.

It is being reported that NASCAR is looking over the footage and evidence available to them to potentially take action in the situation.

In addition to the spin, Brian Vickers, in the 55 car was called into the pits on the green flag lap of the final restart with his crew chief chiming on the radio, "we need one more point."

What is unfortunate now is that we now have the NASCAR brass looking at this situation. What are the going to do? If they do nothing, and say it doesnt appear that anything was shady from the race, fans worldwide will absolutely go bonkers.

If they do determine that team orders were present, and the Michael Waltrip Racing team manipulate the racing results there are a multitude of things they can do.

There is the time old "SLAP ON THE WRIST" treatment that NASCAR is known for. They will fine the team some arbitrary amount of money and place them on a period of probation that doesn't seem to mean anything.

But in this situation, it feels like if they do anything major it will have to impact both the final result of the race, and ultimately the Chase.

Excluding drivers from the result would be my choice, which would change the Chase picture. But, we all know NASCAR doesnt make results official for a day or two and there is still time. If they do something like this however, fans will say that NASCAR doesn't allow results on track to dictate a champion at seasons end.

I say they do nothing, but reissue their statement of "boys, have at it." I doubt Rick Hendrick or Tony Stewart would have an issue with their drivers who were screwed out of the Chase maybe tear up a little equipment because of on-track payback.

There you have it. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Now lets wait and see.

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Commentary
Tags bowyer, champion, chase, controversy, crash, gordon, nascar, newman, pattie, spin, team orders, truex, win