The Frontstretch: Team Orders Of The Worst Kind... OK With NASCAR? by Amy Henderson -- Friday November 1, 2013

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Team Orders Of The Worst Kind... OK With NASCAR?

Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Friday November 1, 2013


“Turn his ass upside down. Don’t take no $#!&.’‘

Those were the words in Ty Dillon’s ear as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series circled the track on Saturday under caution. Late in the race, Dillon had been trying to make a move on Harvick, who was driving for Joe Denette Racing, and when Harvick moved to block, Dillon drilled him in the door, creating a pileup in Turn 2 which collected a handful of others. Harvick took exception, waiting on Dillon under caution and giving his truck a shot on the backstretch. Dillon then hit Harvick’s truck several times before the two came to pit road, clearly trying to turn the No. 14 around, though his multiple attempts were unsuccessful in wrecking Harvick.

Ty Dillon received team orders to wreck competitor Kevin Harvick from his team owner and grandfather Richard Childress.

Harvick responded by stopping in Dillon’s pit box as the two came to pit road, where one of Dillon’s crewmen heaved a large sledgehammer toward the open drivers’ side window of Harvick’s truck (Harvick had previously lowered the window net).

This week, NASCAR announced penalties to Dillon’s team for their actions: crew chief Marcus Richmond was fined $10,000 for failing to control his crew, and Adam Brown, the crewman who threw the hammer, was suspended indefinitely. Though the penalty for Richmond was a bit light considering the nature of the incident (the sledgehammer was very large and an estimated 15-20 pounds, and could have caused serious injury had it gone into the window of Harvick’s truck or hit another of Dillon’s crewmen), the penalty was, overall, about right. The comment on the radio? Well, it’s not unusual for a crew chief to say something like that in the heat of battle, right?

Except, it wasn’t Richmond who told his driver to wreck a competitor. It was team owner Richard Childress.

Let’s recap: a team owner ordered his driver, on the team radio, to go wreck a driver from another team. And NASCAR didn’t do a thing about it.

At the very least, Childress should have been suspended for the remainder of the weekend, with a large fine (think six figures) to think about. You can say it was the heat of the moment, you can say it’s because Ty Dillon’s his grandson, but at the end of the day, a team owner ordered his driver to wreck another one. And NASCAR apparently thought that was A-OK.

To be fair, there have been times in the past when this worst form of team orders has almost certainly been in play, particularly with a title at stake (the 2000 and 2003 CWTS championship battles come to mind). But if a few well-timed crashes were, in fact, engineered, at least the team owner had enough sense not to tell his driver to do it on the team radio!

Because Childress was not penalized with so much as a slap on the wrist, does that mean NASCAR is going to allow owners to tell their drivers to wreck others on the radio? Would they let it slide if the owner of a title contender told a team driver not in the Chase to take out the competition? Is it okay under caution but not under green? If the driver on the receiving end isn’t a series regular? Does it matter who the owner is and who’s on the receiving end? What’s the line?

A couple of seasons ago, an NFL coach was suspended for ordering his players to take out opposing players, offering a bounty if they were hurt. Childress’ order doesn’t go quite that far—he didn’t order Dillon to try and hurt Harvick—but it’s not too far off, either. Driving race cars is risky; allowing an owner to make it even more risky is all kinds of wrong.

NASCAR dropped the ball on this one, big time. By allowing Childress to slide, whether it’s because it was “in the heat of the moment,” because it was under caution, because Harvick isn’t a series regular, because Dillon is Childress’ grandson, NASCAR opens up a can of worms that should never have even been removed from the shelf. If they don’t penalize owners if they order a driver to wreck a competitor, it’s setting up a ridiculous scenario in which this kind of team orders are accepted under certain circumstances, which owners could certainly manipulate to their advantage. Not to mention, it makes NASCAR look even worse for their handling of the Michael Waltrip Racing fiasco at Richmond—how could they justify penalizing one type of race manipulation but letting a much more blatant (and dangerous) one slide?

On the other hand, they did let it slide. Penalizing the same action now would be inconsistent, something with which NASCAR has struggled mightily over the years, to the discontent of fans. Granted, this has never stopped NASCAR before. Still, it just smells rotten all around.

NASCAR got this one wrong. The first, and heaviest, penalty handed down this week should have been to Richard Childress for ordering his driver to wreck another one during a race. If a driver voices his intent on the team radio to take out a competitor, he’s most likely going to be parked for a race to think about it…why should a team owner be exempt?

The lack of a hefty punishment for this very worst kind of team orders is puzzling. Are owners now allowed to tell their boys to have at it at any time? Was NASCAR playing favorites with Ty Dillon’s Pop-Pop? NASCAR should have taken a hard line with this one. Instead, the sanctioning body allowed the orders to slide, creating more questions than answers. What kind of dirty is okay?

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11/01/2013 05:43 AM

same old stuff. Inconsistent (to be charitable, favoritism otherwise) application of the rules. Good comparison to how the NFL dealt with the Saints bounty issue. And some wonder why they are scoffed at by the fans they are trying to attract from other sports.

Jerry Smith
11/01/2013 06:56 AM

Amy, I would agree that NASCAR would appear more credible if they at least publically slapped RC on the wrist, however, I think they should secretly reward all parties involved to incent more of the same. I don’t want NASCAR to suck any drama out of the truck series. The young drivers and teams produce the best racing in my opinion and will be transformed into corporate points racers soon enough. If they would just get em off the mile and halfs and add more short tracks and road races…

11/01/2013 08:15 AM

Can we call this “wreckgate”? Manipulation of the outcome of a race?

Will a sponsor bail? Would this be different if Michael Waltrip owned the team?

Will there be the outrage from the media over this? Uh….NO.

Things that make you go “Hmmmmm…..”

short track follower
11/01/2013 08:24 AM

Come on, if you listen to any of the teams and drivers on any given week they all say something along those lines. There has to be better storylines to report about each week.

11/01/2013 10:40 AM

I also remember Childress punching Kyle in the face(headlock,etc) and was stunned they didn’t pull his hard card. Now this. Apparently ,owners, other than MWR can physically assault, order a “hit”, bribe, at will. Just don’t tell your driver to pit and knock a couple fav’s out of the precious chase. SICKENING.

11/01/2013 11:12 AM

Your article would have been good IF RC’s comment that is the crux of your article wasn’t taken out of context! I believe Childress said “IF he keeps it up, Turn his ass upside down. Don’t take no $#!&… “ This is certainly a DEFENSIVE posture, NOT an offensive one.

11/01/2013 11:47 AM

Nascrap sucks and so does RC ,sounds like a good way to get his Grandson hurt with this crap !! He will never win another championship with these clowns ,strutting around with those western hats . All hat ,no cattle !!

11/01/2013 11:54 AM

You can bet that if this were not Childress and some journeyman team owner and driver that Nascar would have dropped the hammer (pardon the pun).

Nascar should have docked Ty points due to the fact that he spent close to 3/4 of a lap trying to wreck Harvick under caution. Why were there no repercussions for that?

But because its Childress and the Dillon boys, and the fact that Ty is in a close points race, Nascar does nothing. Its not surprising anymore. Its actually expected now.

I’m glad Harvick prevented Dillon from reaching his pit. That essentially was his points deduction.

11/01/2013 12:24 PM

I agree with Animal0069. You left out the important “If…” portion, which completely changes the situation.

11/01/2013 12:32 PM

I’m not bothered by him telling his driver to spin someone. It’s Martinsville and it’s stockcar racing.

But no, I don’t think there should be a penalty for it. But how the hell does Harvick go to work for the next 3 races?

This is turning me more and more into a Harvick fan.
What bothers me is that he told his young, up-and-coming rising star, who happens to be his grandson, to wreck the driver responsible for the vast majority of his team’s wins, including a Daytona 500, for the past decade. Where’s the professional courtesy? Childress is a goon.

11/01/2013 02:16 PM

Much ado about nothing. Amy must have had to write something. However, what frustrates the seemingly waning Nascar fan base, is their hypocrisy. Some teams its o.k. others not so much. Also, they actually have the gall to glorify Tony Stewart throwing a object at a competitors car on a commerical, but they throw the hammer (lol) at the poor working stiff for doing the same thing. Its clearly written in the rule book “actions detrimental to stock car racing ##### shall not throw any object at a competitors car. Do they no see how silly they look? Some without complete understanding of the rules (which is pretty basic with no wiggle room)actually argue that “well, a helment isn’t as deadly as a hammer”, come on people..develope some brains. It doesn’t matter if its your favorite team/driver or not, no excuses.

Ron Schwalbe
11/01/2013 03:25 PM

Simple — remember that Childresss STAYED and raced at the very first Talladega event when the PDA pulled out due to the tire issues and, he has been the benefactor of weird rulings ever since. Remember when they ran a race under yellow for a TON of laps, while NASCAR tried to figure out how to give Dale his spot back after a pit official called him in for loose lug nuts , that were found to be tight ? NEVER happened before, or since — replacing a wheel in turn one — getting back into the car that flipped etc etc .
NASCAR favoritism on display !

11/01/2013 09:19 PM

“All hat ,no cattle !!” Great line fuzzy.

11/01/2013 11:35 PM

You people should go save up some money & get a life. OMG. Two people wrecked at martinsville. Let’s just put rubber bumpers around them & start playing the bumper car music. It’s racing not figure skating. Oh & by the wY why don’t all the conspiracy guys go look for Area 51 & stop bitchin about favoritism all the time

11/01/2013 11:46 PM

back in the late 60’s rc tried to take on curtis turner. He knocked him out with 2 punches, and he is have his size. I also seen him pick on little guys but never a driver like lee petty d. Pearson or tiny lund.


Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.