A Window On The Reality Of NASCAR

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:

“I don’t think [Trevor Bayne] really ever had any intentions of pushing me, and if he did, the Ford folks told him to do something different. It’s politics, that’s part of it.”

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:

“I was caught in the worst situation I could have ever been in.”

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.

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8 Responses to “A Window On The Reality Of NASCAR”

  1. Woogeroo says:

    In the immortal words of the great Junior Johnson:

    It’s not cheating, it’s gaining a technical advantage.


    I don’t blame ‘em a bit for trying as big brother as NASCAR is these days.


  2. Neon says:

    Is all of this whining because of trick-or-treat?
    RE @ Stewart’s whining: I also would think twice about drafting w/ #14 when he had already spun his own teammate in Ryan. Go figure?
    RE @ Gordon’s whining: Do y’all actually think Jeff would have dumped Trevor in order for the #24 to win? Say it isn’t so…of course he would have!
    RE @ Chad & Jimmie’s conversation: After what happened to Bowyer in post-race at last year’s Loudon Chase race….wouldn’t you have the same talk w/ your driver? Ok, ok probably best to do it in the motorhome.If that rear bumper is a mm too wide, narrow, left, right, up, down, in, out, thick, thin, etc, etc you are toast. Why not make it unmeasurable? Of course if you are Michael Waltrip in the 2011 Daytona Truck race, the entire rear spoiler lays flat on the last lap (ala F1 DRS style)and you skate thru post-race. Go figure!
    Still wish Blaney had of won!

  3. fireball doowah says:

    I’ve a hard time seeing how people are hating on Jack Roush over this! Two of his drivers are in a good position to win a championship, and as owner, he should be twisting arms of partners & teammates to help out the 99 & the 17. Now, if the 16 or the 6 pulls over for Carl/Matt so they can win the race (or if they intentionally wreck a chaser), then that’s a different story. Otherwise, no story.

  4. Kim says:

    Is it really that surprising that those of us who are newer to the sport really are shocked to have all this come out at once?

    From now on I’ll just figure that every single team is lying or “bending the rules”.

    I guess “If you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t racin’” still applies.

    And so does “How can you tell if someone in NASCAR is lying?”

    “Their lips are moving.”

    So now I am just as hard-bitten as the old timers.

    So why does it feel horrible?

  5. MS says:

    Actually I see all of these accusations and complaining as very good for the sport despite what the drivers may be feeling. It forces the casual observer to realize it ain’t just about guys going in a circle any more than football is just about guys knocking each other down. Do you think a year long NASCAR ad campaign could educate as well as this single week? Nope. And this didn’t cost one incremental penny. I say embrace and publicize the heck out of this sort of stuff!

  6. Sue Rarick says:

    The NASCAR fans have, as a rule, always rooted for drivers. Even brand loyalists have had a favorite driver within that brand. Even with all the deals Talledega was offering up to race weekend they might have filled 1/2 the seats.

    With the discounts that were offered it is obvious that the lack of people attending had to do with the racing and not the economy. I personally decided to go iRacing instead of treking down to Talledega. And it was the racing not the prices that made me decide. And I’ve been a NASCAR fan since the late 1950′s.

  7. Woogeroo says:

    It’s always been that way… the only thing that irritates me is when they blatantly get caught and wanna cry about it.

    pay yer ticket like a man and move on.


  8. Lydia says:

    Well cheating or not…guess we won’t see JJ win the next 4 weekends…they can’t afford to go through the post race tech inspection! As far as “team orders” go it’s a shame..yeah I get it..but it really ruined what should have been a great ending to a fairly mundane race. Call me naive but I don’t think either Gordon or Stewart would have dumped another car no matter who was driving or what brand it was…I think they’re racers and pushing another car and trying to pass it on the last turn of the last lap seems more their style.

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