BLOWBACK: Towing The Line On Team Orders
Team orders are nothing new in auto racing.
They’ve been part of Formula One racing for decades, but when they crept into NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing during the regular season finale at Richmond Int’l Raceway last week, there was a huge uproar from fans, competitors and media.
Monday night more than the uproar was huge as NASCAR levied a $300,000 fine against Michael Waltrip Racing and docked all three of its teams 50 points.
The move knocked Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 56 MWR entry out of the Chase and put Ryan Newman and the Stewart-Haas Racing machine into the Chase. MWR General Manager Ty Norris has also been suspended indefinitely from NASCAR.
There was convincing evidence that MWR officials directed Clint Bowyer to intentionally spin, allowing Truex a final chance to gain positions. There was also audio evidence the team ordered Brian Vickers to give up positions on the track in an effort push Joey Logano up the finishing order in order to help Truex earn a wild card position in the Chase.
In the end, Truex and Newman tied in points and Truex received the final wild card position via the tiebreaker procedure.
NSSN Says: While it took two days to make a decision, NASCAR did the best it could to right a wrong and the seriousness of the penalties and the continued ramifications it will have on MWR and its sponsors helps ensure teams won’t try this in the future, or at least they won’t get caught.
How do you think NASCAR handled this situation?