Drivers React to Manipulation

NASCAR

The updated Chase field photo was taken today in Chicago. (Photo: Getty Images)

CHICAGO - A number of drivers weighed in on the team orders and points manipulation controversies NASCAR is currently facing.

During Thursday’s Chase Media Day event in downtown Chicago, many of the 12 drivers in contention for this year’s championship shared their opinions on the incidents that happened in Richmond last Saturday night resulting in NASCAR penalizing Michael Waltrip Racing.

Overall the sentiment was teammates working with one another or drivers exchanging favors is an accepted form of collaboration in the sport.

“There are multiple layers to this thing,” said Greg Biffle. “It isn’t like price fixing. In certain situations where you are coming down to the end of this thing or you are asking a lap guy which may be a competitive car but you are asking that lap car to cut you a break.”

Matt Kenseth, the number one seed in the Chase when things begin Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, understands that helping teammates is kosher as well. However, the Joe Gibbs Racing member also believes there are boundaries as to when and how drivers work together.

“For years and years teammates have always helped each other and you’ve helped a friend or not tried to hurt a teammate,” said Kenseth. “I’m a big believer and I still believe this, when they drop the green on Sunday or whatever or whenever the next race is, it’s one against 42.

“You want to help your teammates and work with them, but I really think being a good teammate really is Monday through when they drop the green flag. It’s working on cars, it’s sharing information, it’s having debrief meetings to talk about things you found that you liked and you disliked -- doing all those things. When you start the race, you don’t want to put a teammate in a bad situation, but it’s about your perspective team and trying to win the race and finish as high as you can.”

Although he didn’t condone going over the line, as many thought Clint Bowyer's alleged late race spin did, Kyle Busch explained how important making the Chase was to the financial health of an organization.

With so much on the line, Busch understands the pressure of doing whatever it may take to qualify for the playoffs.

“But, when you look at the organization as a whole, like the 56 (Martin Truex Jr.) making the Chase -- you get a bonus from your sponsor, you get a bonus from your manufacturer and finishing fifth or sixth in points versus 13th or 14th in points is a whole other -- you’re looking at a $3 to $3.5 million difference,” said Busch. “That’s a huge, huge financial implications to a team whether it’s for the remainder of this year or even for building cars and going into 2014.

“Because as we know, money buys speed and you do anything you can to get yourselves in the Chase. It’s not just being a Chase driver or being in the Chase, there’s a lot of other implications that are on the docket as well.”

Busch also doesn't think the situation will force Bowyer to lose any focus once the Chase begins.

“He’s forgot about it already, dude,” Busch said. “Bowyer is as even-keel as anybody. He has a very, very short memory because that ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), dude, it just takes over.”

One driver chose to steer clear of the situation entirely during Thursday's event.

“I think it is still kind of vague and not clear what exactly happened and what didn’t happen and the extent of everything so to me, I was glad just to win that race and in a way just not be a part of that stuff,” said Richmond race winner Carl Edwards.

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