The Backstretch Blog: May I take your order?

Published On: Oct 29 2013 10:55:39 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 30 2013 10:06:04 AM CDT

Okay let's just cut to the chase, did Michael Waltrip racing and Kansas native Clint Bowyer, use team orders to get teammate Martin Truex, Jr into the chase?

First lets look at the evidence. There is the spin. The audio from Bowyer's scanner on Saturday night is interesting to say the least. Bowyer is asked if his arm is hurting and that its probably hot in there, along with the fact that Ryan Newman is going to win the race. And then Bowyer spins.

"Yeah, I think we had something going wrong," said Bowyer.  "We went from a car capable of winning the race, leading, to I think we started 12th or 13th, just went straight backwards.  Extremely tighter, tighter, tighter, tighter.

"The 88 got up underneath of me.  I had so much wheel, by the time I got to the gas, he was underneath me, I spun out."

That's Bowyers story, and so far he is sticking to it.

And then, this interaction reported by the Associated press between MWR driver Brian Vickers and MWR general manager Ty Norris late in the race:

Vickers: "I don't understand. Pit right now?"

Norris: "You've got to pit this time. we need that 1 point."

Vickers: "10-4. Do I got a tire going down?"

Norris: "Yeah""Come down pit road right now, get a good look at it."

Vickers: "Did you find anything?"

Norris: "I'll see you after the race, Brian, I owe you a kiss."

The spin, followed by pit stops and the positions lost late by the 15 and 55 appear to be the difference that put Truex in the chase. Especially when you consider he finished in a tie with  Newman for the final spot.

While the evidence may seem pretty compelling that MWR used a little teamsmanship to get the 56 in the chase, the bigger question might be, is this any different then a teammate pulling over and letting another lead a lap for bonus points? That happens a lot in the sport. If it is different, should NASCAR take a closer look at team orders?

It's certainly not unpressident for teammates to help each other. It just seams its never worked so grandly or so obviously.

For what it's worth, NASCAR told reporters in Richmond Saturday night, they didn't not view Bowyer's spin as intentional. of course, that was before the Vickers exchange also came to light.

NASCAR is reviewing the race, something they do after every race and they say they will make no further statement until that process is complete.

NASCAR could still penalize Bowyer if they conclude he spun on purpose. As they did Dale Earnhardt Jr in 2004 at Bristol, though Junior admitted he spun it. I expect no such admission from Bowyer and MWR.

Of course a lot of other things had to go right for Truex to get in and Newman and Jeff Gordon be out. The 39 had a horid pit stop, dropping from first to fifth.

"We should have been able to come off pit road first and come off pit road first if we were a championship contending team," said Newman.  "We needed a championship contending pit crew, and we didn't have that tonight."

And even with that Newman could have raced his way back to the front, but didn't.

But I digress.

Do team orders exist in NASCAR? Of course they do. Is this different? I'm not sure. What will NASCAR do now? I have no idea.