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Would A NASCAR Driver Take A Dive For The Team?

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 11 2009
Is it possible that somebody in Saturday night's Sprint Cup race in Richmond will take a dive for a teammate? (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Is it possible that somebody in Saturday night's Sprint Cup race in Richmond will take a dive for a teammate? (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Richmond, Va. – Would a NASCAR driver intentionally throw a race to assist a teammate?

That was a major topic of discussion on the eve of Saturday night’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway, which will set the field for this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Though several drivers claimed they were unaware of accusations that John Force intentionally lost to teammate Robert High in the semifinals of Monday’s NHRA event in Indianapolis, they went on record and offered a wide range of opinions on the subject on whether it could happen in NASCAR.

“As far as (Saturday night in Richmond), I’m sure the teammates are going to do whatever they can do to help,” said Brian Vickers, who enters this weekend’s race 20 points out of 12th in the Chase standings. “But in our sport, I don’t know if they could throw a race.

“If you’re running for a Chase spot and you catch a teammate, you hope to think he would at least let you go.

“We race with each other. I’m not going to say (throwing a race) couldn’t happen, but we race with each other too much, too often for stuff like that to go down.”

But if a scenario existed where Tony Stewart could win Saturday night’s race or yield the lead to teammate Ryan Newman, who needed a victory to clinch a spot in the playoffs, Stewart admitted it would be a difficult choice for him.

“It would be awful hard to do,” said Stewart, who co-owns Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet. “I need those 10 (bonus) points really bad. But I don’t know that it’s going to come down to that.

“Ryan ran better than we did in the spring. So, I think he’ll probably settle that on his own. You just hope it doesn’t come down to that. That’s a tough decision to have to make as a driver while you’re out there.”

Chase contender Juan Pablo Montoya admitted that it was common during his driving days in Formula 1 to make major concessions on the track for a teammate.

It’s not an order,” Montoya said with a smile. “But at the end of the day, it’s partly at your discretion. So if you like doing what you’re doing, you’d better obey.”

Three-time Cup Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said he’s never contemplated intentionally handing a win to a teammate.

“I guess it could happen. I wouldn’t say that people won’t do it,” Johnson said. “I just know in my experience at Hendrick Motorsports it hasn’t been discussed or even considered.”

If it’s late in the going in Saturday night’s event and race leader Johnson controls whether Mark Martin, who is running second at the time, earns a berth in the Chase, Johnson said he’s pretty sure his teammate wouldn’t want him to pull over.

“I think if we threw something for Mark, I think Mark would get out of the car and whoop some ass,” Johnson said. “He wants to go in there and earn it on his own. I don’t think he’d tolerate something like that.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 11 2009
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • josie says:

    I must be the only person on the planet who sees Martin as a senior version of Kyle Busch. Although Martin is an extremely gifted driver..he is the senior version of Kyle….whine, scream, moan and complain while driving. I have heard his in car audio many many times as he whined and screamed at his spotter over and over telling him to get those drivers in front of him out of his way…blah blah blah… And his post race interviews..you could dub in Kyle’s and hear the same words..Martin wins he’s all sugar and spice…he loses and he’s pissy and complains and gives the “poor poor me” routine. Do I think Martin would want “help” from a teamate to get in the Chase? You bet..and I think the “ass whooping” Johnson is referring to would come if the teamate DIDN’T move….

    • Doobie says:

      he loses and he’s pissy and complains and gives the “poor poor me” routine

      Did you miss the 2007 Daytona 500?

      Martin’s conduct after that fiasco pretty much makes Johnson’s point.

      Even though he got screwed, he just let it go. He also never said a word about his protege, Kenseth, helping Harvick beat him.

      And what about the other drivers? Do they never “whine, scream, moan and complain”?

  • And it came out today that Nelson Piquet was ordered to crash his car in a specific turn on a specific lap to help Fernando Alonso.