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.