The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series installed the Chase for The Sprint Cup to create drama and a succinct playoff system, drawing up the intensity before the ratings tank and the NFL juggernaut officially gains momentum. Yet, after last night’s race, the system should officially be put to rest, as collusion and team orders left a foul stench upon what was otherwise an excellent race at an excellent track.
Once again, the sport with the ultimate identity crisis which struggles to compete with the major sports organizations, has seen a bullet swiftly penetrate through its foot. The Chase has become stale already, thanks to the dominance of Jimmie Johnson, and while NASCAR continues to be an “old school” sport with new school champions, the sports identity was once again tarnished last night. Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers engaged in Michael Waltrip Racing team orders to get Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for The Sprint Cup as a wild card, eliminating veteran Jeff Gordon in the process.
Team orders are incredibly frowned upon in NASCAR, but racing is far more cutthroat than any other sport, in regards to treachery and rule breaking leading to innovation. While Chad Knaus bends the rules and is chastised, the “good ‘ol boys” are revered for their ingenuity for the sake of speed.
NASCAR has changed. Bowyer is now a part of the damning set of telemetry, audio and outright logic, along with his teammate Vickers. If anyone could save that car it was dirt track ace Bowyer. Richmond International Raceway is also one of Bowyer’s best tracks, and both he and Vickers pace after the incident raised even more eyebrows.
The fact is, this incident is now behind all the parties, and, more importantly, NASCAR. The silence is deafening, but it is still a natural aura compared to NASCAR funneling sound into its own hypothetical stadium. Team orders have always been a part of motorsport. Despite it being blasphemy to NASCAR fans, team orders are here to stay.
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