Minter: Some Orders Are Tough To Swallow
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
Team orders can be troubling for those who like their sporting contests to be as pure as possible.
The issue arose in the NHRA a couple of weeks back when John Force appeared to give his teammate Robert Hight a round win that allowed Hight to make the NHRA’s version of NASCAR’s Chase.
Team orders came into play again this past week in the Camping World Truck Series race at New Hampshire when third-finishing Kevin Harvick radioed to his crew to order second-running Ron Hornaday Jr., his employee, to let him by so he could challenge eventual winner Kyle Busch.
Harvick, in his post-race comments, didn’t deny that he meant for his employees in the pits and on the spotter’s stand to order Hornaday to lay over. Hornaday did not follow the instructions, which may or may not have been relayed to him.
“I made it very clear on the radio what I expected, and obviously it didn’t come from the pit box or the top,” Harvick said. “It’s not anything to do with Ron (Hornaday), it’s just a little bit frustrating from an internal standpoint. I’ll fix that.”
From Hornaday’s comments afterward, he seemed taken aback by the developments.
“It was a good day until after the race I guess,” he said. “I gave (Hornaday) the bottom two or three times, but I guess he was loose enough to where he couldn’t go low. I just ran it as hard as I could. The 51 (Kyle Busch ) and us had the oldest tires out there and we were just hanging on the best we can.”
Hornaday, in the awkward position in the post-race interviews of having to discuss the incident in front of his boss, said he figured that if Harvick’s truck was that much faster he’d have simply driven by him.
“Basically, he had fresher tires, you know,” Hornaday said. “We probably had 60 laps more on our tires.
“I thought he was just back there. He would get a run, and he would fall back four or five spots and then he would get a good run again.
“He pushed me a couple times down the straightaway, and I thought maybe he was just playing around and having fun….
“I don’t know. I have to still talk to him, so we’ll see.”
NASCAR has done little over the years to discourage multiple entries by a single owner. In fact, recent rules like testing bans and the four-teams-per owner rules encourage it. In the Sprint Cup Series, Rick Hendrick essentially has six teams, while Jack Roush is headed from five to eight if the Yates Racing-Richard Petty Motorsports merger goes through.
Maybe it’s being too old-fashioned, but it seems like racing has been a better sport in the eras when teams fielded just one car.
Back in the 50s, Carl Kiekhaefer’s multi-car teams dominated the sport for a time, but it was troubling for the late Bill France Sr., who saw the problems caused by a giant, dominant team and battled with Kiekhaefer until the controversial owner left the sport.
One is left to wonder whether France’s grandson, current NASCAR chairman Brian France, is similarly worried.
– Rick Minter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments