Joe Gibbs Racing did what they had to do over the past two race weekends at Talladega and Martinsville to ensure the shot to be crowned the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway later this month.
At Talladega Superspeedway, Joe Gibbs Racing was criticized for playing it safe by having three of their four cars ride around in the back in an effort to avoid the potential of the “Big One”. There efforts and strategy at Talladega was able to get all four of the cars into the next round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
However, that strategy was deemed as a violation of NASCAR’s 100 percent rule that was implemented in 2013 after the Michael Waltrip Racing debacle at Richmond International Raceway.
At Talladega, JGR did what they had to do in an effort to get all four cars into the next round and a shot at a championship. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Matt Kenseth came into Talladega above the cutline while teammate Denny Hamlin was below the cutoff. Hamlin stayed near the front and was able to advance to the next round. Edwards, Busch, and Kenseth stayed out of the way in an effort to avoid trouble in order to keep their spots in the next round. They did not violate the 100 percent rule because they did 100 percent of what they had to do in order to move to the next round.
However, at Martinsville, the JGR drivers were furious with each other about the lack of teamwork used in the closing laps in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500.
“You can’t wreck each other and that’s all there is to it I guess. We worked so good together that we gave the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) car the win today. That’s how good JGR is. We had a great M&M’s Camry and we could have been a little farther up front, but we were held up there and we couldn’t pass and if I did try to make moves or try to make a pass, I got cutoff,” said Busch post-race.
At this point in the Chase, it is time for “every man to fend for himself.”
Just because you are racing your teammate does not mean that they have to give up their position to help you, especially if they are in the fight for the championship. Everyone has the same goals when they have the chance to win a championship: win and you are in at Homestead.
I believe that team orders should no longer be in play when it comes to teammates in the battle for the championship. Drivers have commitments to sponsors and their owner to have a shot at the championship.
Should they have worked together to catch Johnson and give him one last chance to make the final four?
The Chase for the Sprint Cup is on. Drivers must do what is best for them when it comes to vying for a spot in the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway.