Tony Stewart: Richard Childress Racing Told Paul Menard Not To Push Me Past Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 23: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 El Monterey/Office Depot Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 23, 2011 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Stewart claims RCR's team orders ruined his shot at a Talladega victory on Sunday.

Tony Stewart's chances at a Talladega win on Sunday were hurt by team orders in three different instances, he said Tuesday. And the driver/team owner is not happy about it.

"It's a shame, because I've never seen more politics in a race go on in my life than what I saw this weekend," Stewart said after meeting fans at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "I think the car owners are to blame, the manufacturers are to blame and the fans don't deserve that."

On the final restart with two laps to go, Stewart was in fourth place and had teamed up with Richard Childress Racing's Paul Menard, who was starting right behind him.

Stewart was expecting Menard would push him to a chance at a potential victory. Instead, the pairing never went anywhere, and Stewart finished seventh.

What happened? According to Stewart, someone from RCR told Menard he could work with the No. 14 car as long as he didn't push Stewart past RCR's Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton, who were vying for the win.

How did Stewart know this was true?

"Somebody heard (Menard) change to a different channel and heard that conversation in the trailer on a scanner," Stewart said. "So it was really disappointing to hear something like that from an organization like (RCR)."

Childress has already denied giving Menard any such instructions. After the race, a reporter asked Childress if he told Menard to back off from helping Stewart.

"I went on Paul's radio and told him go up there and push Tony and try to win the race," Childress said. "I wanted him to win the race but I also wanted him to push Tony. That was just the way it was."

But that wasn't the only time in the race Stewart was potentially hurt by team orders.

Previously, Stewart had been working with Joe Gibbs Racing's Joey Logano despite the No. 20 car being damaged. But when Logano suddenly pitted, Stewart lost his partner.

"I was told by my spotter that the 20 was pitting but I was not to pit," Stewart said. "Basically what happened was the team orders came into play and the Gibbs organization had called Joey into the pits at the same time Denny (Hamlin) was pitting, and (Joey had) to go with him."

Stewart's original plan was to work with Ford driver David Gilliland, who had teamed with Stewart in the past. But Gilliland was told to try and work with other Fords instead of Chevrolets like Stewart's, and the tandem never hooked up.

The Stewart-Haas Racing team owner then decided to pair with teammate Ryan Newman, but Stewart accidentally wrecked him during a two-car draft through the Talladega trioval.

Team orders then got more attention after the race when Trevor Bayne ditched drafting partner Jeff Gordon to push Ford teammate Matt Kenseth instead.

"I hate team orders," Stewart told fans during his NASCAR Hall of Fame appearance.

So what's the solution?

"Hopefully, NASCAR will come up with a package where we don't even have to worry about it," Stewart said. "And they're looking at that. They're looking at trying different ways of breaking it up. But until they can come up with that equation, that's the cards we're dealt with right now."
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