NASCAR got it partially right when it made the decision to put Ryan Newman in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship and issue penalties to Michael Waltrip Racing.
Does anyone doubt that team orders have been a factor in not only Sprint Cup races, but also in Nationwide and Camping World series events?
How many times has it been pointed out that a driver allowed a teammate to lead a lap to gain a point in the driver standings? It probably has happened too many times to mention.
The problem in Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond was that Waltrip Racing made it obvious that they were manipulating (cheating) the finish to ensure that Martin Truex Jr. would qualify for the Chase.
Although NASCAR said there wasn’t overwhelming evidence that Clint Bowyer intentionally spun his Toyota with five laps remaining. With Newman leading the race, it appeared that Truex would not make the Chase.
He got assistance from Brian Vickers and Bowyer by their making multiple pit stops to get Joey Logano into the 10th position in the points to qualify for the Chase, knocking out Jeff Gordon. That nifty move allowed Truex to claim one of the two wild-card spots.
It certainly backfired on MWR.
This is the same racing team that at its first-ever race, at the Daytona 500, was penalized for using an illegal fuel additive (jet fuel) to assist Waltrip in securing a qualifying position for the race. He did eventually make the starting field through the qualifying races. In my opinion, NASCAR should have sent the team home for the weekend.
I agree that Newman should have been placed in the Chase. The problem I have with NASCAR is it didn’t also move Gordon into one of the 12 Chase slots. Logano should have remained, but Bowyer should have not have been allowed to contend for the title.