Note: My articles are based solely on my thoughts, observations and sometimes experiences. Normally I do not offer statistics, although at times I may reference what different broadcasters, among others, have said or alluded to.
On Sunday, November 1st, we watched a race at Martinsville which was to determine what four drivers would advance for the NASCAR Cup championship for 2020.
Some of the racing was very good and some of it was rather boring at times. The broadcasters talked constantly only about the drivers who had a chance to advance to the final four for the championship. They gave us very little information as to where the rest of drivers were and how they were doing. Only if one of those drivers created a caution or had an incident of some sort, did their name cross the mouths of the broadcasters. The way they talked, one would think there were only 8 drivers in this race and told us constantly where they stood as far as their chance to advance.
Sometimes during this race, I began to get very bored and thought about changing my channel because I was very tired of hearing about only 8 drivers in a field of 39, so my focus kept going to other things. This made me wonder why I kept watching this particular race.
During one of the pit stops, one of Chase Elliot’s pit crew jumped over the wall and went out into the pit before Chase got there. He realized what he had done, and quickly turned around and got back over the wall before Chase got into his pit. There was no penalty for this action. Many fans did not understand why there was no penalty. Chase went on to win the race. I am still not sure if I understand it.
During the last 15 laps of the race, Erik Jones was catching Denny Hamlin, his teammate. Hamlin had the last (4th) transfer spot for the final four. Shortly after he caught Denny, some communication was picked up over Erik’s radio.
Note: This is what was said as I read it from another site:
Crew chief Chris Gayle said on the No. 20 team’s radio to Jones: “(Hamlin is) going to race you hard because he needs to, because it’s within like three points for those guys. He’s going to race you hard because it’s three points on those guys. Just so you’re aware.”
Jones responded: “I’ve got a huge gap behind me.”
About 80 seconds later, on the No. 20 team’s radio channel, spotter Rick Carelli said: “Don’t pass him, Jones. Stay with him and drive what you can.”
Hamlin finished 11th and advanced to the Championship 4.
After the race, the following comment was put out by Joe Gibbs Racing:
Joe Gibbs Racing competition director Wally Brown said Monday that there was no “team orders” directive that governed how the four-car organization’s drivers competed against each other.
When I read that, my first thought was that it was perhaps Toyota who issued some possible team orders. Although he is not one of my favorite drivers, I felt very bad for Erik Jones. I would like to add a link to a very good article here and give you something else to think about where Toyota is concerned.
I also found the following during my research on this subject:
- Section 7.5 in the Cup Rule Book lists the performance obligation competitors have. It reads: NASCAR requires its Competitor(s) to race at 100% of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in the Events.
- Any Competitor(s) who takes action with the intent to Artificially Alter the finishing positions of the Event or encourages, persuades, or induces others to Artificially Alter the finishing positions of the Event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR, as specified in Section 12 Violations and Disciplinary Action.
- “Artificially Alter” shall be defined as actions by any Competitor(s) that show or suggest that the Competitor(s) did not race at 100% of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the Event, in NASCAR’s sole discretion.
On Monday, NASCAR did review the radio communications and then determined there were no team orders, therefore no penalties. I guess they also determined that Erik was racing at 100% of his ability by staying behind Denny and not trying to pass in those few final laps. Not only that, but he was not trying to Artificially Alter the finishing positions of the event (race) by staying behind Denny.
I personally do not understand why the ruling came about the way it did. To me, there is only one reason and that is: NASCAR wants to alter the outcome of their chase season. I really don’t think they understand that this could possibly turn fans away from NASCAR.
For me, along with the Race Fans Forever crew and members, our Champion for this season is Kevin Harvick who was the Champion of what they call the regular season. So, Congratulations, Kevin!
Thank you for reading and commenting here. Your thoughts, ideas on the subject and opinions are very welcome. I remind you to keep them clean and no bashing, please. You may also email comments to me.