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Carl Edwards raises a red flag on NASCAR team orders

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2013

There are no team orders in NASCAR. At least that is what everyone says publicly.

Then what are they?

Suggestions? Bullet points? Procedures?

There has to be something, because what else possibly could lead Carl Edwards to conclude that Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle – who was leading – was expected to drop back 20-plus car lengths with 35 of 200 laps left in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Michigan to help clean debris from the grille of Edwards’ car?

I seriously doubt Edwards came up with the idea himself.

In fact, immediately after the race, when asked why he was mad Biffle elected not to help, Edwards told The Sporting News, “It’s his job to help me.”

Clearly, the idea that Biffle should be expected to help in that situation was ingrained in Edwards’ thinking.

Both drivers have worked for Jack Roush for several years. Roush adamantly proclaimed after the race, “There are no team orders,” and said he agreed Edwards should not have expected Biffle to help in that situation.

Yet Edwards clearly thought so.

Such a move seems ridiculous on the surface. Biffle, who had yet to win this season, held a large lead as the race was drawing to a close. Why would he possibly want to give up that lead to anyone, including a teammate?

Yet Edwards clearly thought he should.

There might not be team orders, but Sunday teammates were on opposite sides of something. A Policy? Edict? Telepathic suggestion?

Whatever it is, it isn’t anything that should be found in NASCAR.

Notes

New road-course qualifying debuts: Single-car qualifying on road courses will be shelved this week at Sonoma Raceway and this summer at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. Instead, cars will be assigned to one of five or six groups based upon practice speeds.

Within those groups, cars will be separated fastest to slowest and released at intervals. Each group will have a window within which drivers can complete their qualifying – each likely receiving three laps at full speed.

A car’s fastest lap will count and the field will be set based upon overall qualifying speeds. The process has been used in the Nationwide Series.

Allmendinger returns to Nationwide: A.J. Allmendinger will return to the Nationwide series this weekend after a five-year hiatus, driving the No. 22 Ford for Penske Racing at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. His last start and his best finish (12th) came at Phoenix during 2008 while driving for Gillett-Evernham Motorsports.

Having two starts under his belt at Road America, Allmendinger made a 2006 trip to Victory Lane in the then-Championship Auto Racing Teams Series – his last win in an open-wheel car.

Cardinale honored at Sonoma: Sonoma Raceway will honor its longtime spokesman John Cardinale, who died during March after a two-year battle with stage IV gastric cancer.

Cardinale will be inducted into the track’s Wall of Fame and the raceway will rename its media center the “John Cardinale Media Center” during a ceremony Friday.

Newcomers on hand: Three drivers will attempt to make their first Cup start at Sonoma: Alex Kennedy, Victory Gonzalez Jr. and Paulie Harraka.

The last time three or more drivers made their debut in the same race was at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 24, 2004. (Chad Chaffin, Mario Gosselin and Travis Kvapil).

Crew member suspended: Ryan Hess, a crew member in the Nationwide Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s substance-abuse policy.

Next race

Toyota/Save Mart 350

Where: Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

TV: TNT

Radio: Performance Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Clint Bowyer



Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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