Superspeedway racing tends to bring out the worst in everyone and this weekend in Talladega was no different. We had accusations of team orders, then subsequent denials, crew chiefs telling drivers to wreck on purpose, blatant cheating and complaints from everyone on track about the driving. There has been shock and outrage from the NASCAR press corps and the sport’s fan base. After all, who knew any of this went on?!
We’re Shocked Someone May Have Been Cheating
SBNation’s Jeff Gluck posted a story yesterday with audio from #48 crew chief Chad Knaus. Knaus is heard telling Jimmie Johnson to “crack the back of the car” if they win. Presumably they were beyond the allowed tolerances for whatever reason.
Knaus admitted the intention saying he was, “ Just being proactive, I just told Jimmie, ‘Look, man – we’ve just got to make sure there’s a tire mark or some type of visible damage.’ Just because cars do move when you race them like that.”
This ended up being the story du jour on Wednesday. It was unbelievable that a team could be working in the gray area – no one does that! Of course we already knew Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus were cheaters…
The Roush Team Orders
Jack Roush telling his drivers to stick with Ford teams!? Ridiculous.
This was the outrage of the weekend after word seeped out that Ford and Roush had, at the very least, made it clear that their teams should stick together at Talladega.
Ford and Roush both denied “orders” were issued, but it was pretty clear what the expectation was.
The way the talk was this weekend though you would have thought Roush was the only one that made this expectation clear. Of course anybody with two eyes and a basic understanding of the sport could see every other team on track had done the same, and why wouldn’t they? As I wrote on Monday, you draft with who brought you.
You Feel Double Crossed?
Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon were both beside themselves after the race Sunday. They had committed dancing partners who they felt abandoned, or sabotaged them in favor of teammates. It’s a cruel world.
Stewart told SB Nation:
“It’s a shame, because I’ve never seen more politics in a race go on in my life than what I saw this weekend…I think the car owners are to blame, the manufacturers are to blame and the fans don’t deserve that.“
Gordon echoed Stewart, saying after the race:
As they say, it’s business, it’s not personal. And of all people I would expect Gordon and Stewart to know that. It’s true it’s unfortunate for the fans, it stinks for those who got the shaft, but the fact is it’s reality. Welcome to NASCAR boys.
Hey Trevor, Cool It With The Hyperbole
Speaking of distraught, Trevor Bayne. He’s young and apparently doesn’t know when to go light on the hyperbole. In an interview with SceneDaily he said:
Devastating. I’ll bet there was some cringing at Roush after that interview.
He did go on to say that he wasn’t forced to switch drafting partners but felt it was his role as Kenseth’s teammate. Either way, nobody can fault him for making the decision he made – not even Jeff Gordon. He’s in a precarious position at Roush and needs to do what he has to do to keep the bosses happy and his butt in a ride.
A lesson though (not for our interests but his own) when you’re trying to make a good impression, toe the company line.
This whole week has left me shaking my head and rolling my eyes. While we don’t necessarily get to be witness to some of this stuff on a weekly basis, it happens that often. No one should be surprised about ANY of this. Consider this week a window into NASCAR reality.
Now on to Martinsville and a decidedly less controversial setting.