The more things change, the more they stay the same
Michael Waltrip has become the talk of NASCAR fans, and not in a good way. Michael Waltrip Racing has had their share of penalties in past years, for some of the weirdest infractions we've heard of. Remember the tainted fuel?
Well this time it was because of team communications. General Manager Ty Norris called Brian Vickers into the pits for a "phantom" pit stop, giving Martin Truex Jr. an on-track advantage, and an advantage leading into the Chase. When that wasn't enough, Clint Bowyer spun, bringing out a caution. Martin Truex Jr ended up in the Chase, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman did not.
After reviewing the team communications, NASCAR handed down a huge penalty to MWR, namely $300,000 in fines, suspension of Norris and probation of the other Crew Chiefs. Truex Jr., Bowyer and Vickers were each docked 50 points.
And everyone is blaming Michael Waltrip. Ty Norris has publicly said HE made a split second decision (perhaps a series of them) and there has been no evidence that I've seen or heard that Michael was involved in those decisions. In fact, Vickers was in the dark about his pit stop and Truex Jr. has said that he had no knowledge of the actions of his teammates, only that he was driving the race of his life.
I understand that Michael is the team owner, but why are people hating on him? Is it because they don't like his on-air persona? Is it because they really don't believe that Ty Norris acted alone? Or is it just because they don't like Michael Waltrip, or perhaps, his brother, Darrell?
I have been a Michael Waltrip and a DW fan for years. Although they can be annoying on air, I find their commentary insightful. My opinion.
Now it seems NASCAR is also investigating the communications between the 38 team of David Gilliland of Front Row Motorsports and the 20 of Joey Logano, a Penske team member. It seems David let Joey pass him on the track, thereby "manipulating" the outcome of the race.
Really?? And somehow everyone wants us to believe this is the first time this has ever happened?
How ridiculous. Team orders have been around for decades. I don't care how many ways anyone tries to deny it, the fact is, they exist. Perhaps the method of communicating them has changed, perhaps the decisions on how to "help" a teammate are made long before the race even starts. But we all know they exist, so why the big surprise and all the outrage now? Teammates always pull over to let each other lead a lap, if the situation allows. They pit together. They even use each other's pit crews if the need is there. So why are we all up in arms about Brian Vickers pitting or Clint Bowyer spinning?
Now comes word that NAPA is reviewing the sponsorship obligations with MWR. That is offensive to me. NAPA wants Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase, the team does what they can to get him there, and does so, using methods that have been around for decades, yet suddenly NAPA thinks that is wrong. Sorry, to me that is just a chicken***t attitude.
The Chase starts up this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway and at this point in time, it still is unclear whether Jeff Gordon will be awarded a place in the Chase. It is a possibility, based on the communications. The actions of MWR, Front Row Motorsports and Penske resulted in Jeff missing the Chase by on a few points. On one hand, I want to say "It is what it is", after all, Hendrick Motorsports wasn't one of the cheating teams this time. On the other hand, if NASCAR is going to penalize all these teams for doing what they have always done, why not benefit Jeff? It sure would make my son happy.
I don't have a clue who is going to come out of Chicagoland with the Checkers, but I'll be glad when we can just get back to racing.