Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart On The Politics Of NASCAR Restrictor Plate Racing

Presidential hopeful Herman Cain might have made a recent stop in Talladega, Ala., but that was not the only politicking going on around those parts in recent days.

Last weekend's Sprint Cup Series race saw more politics than perhaps ever before as drivers, teams and manufacturers jockeyed for drafting partners throughout the weekend. 

The team orders and manufacturer commitments led to a lackluster race in the eyes of many fans and has some drivers calling for a change in proceedure

But much like anything, politics on the restrictor plate tracks is not a new phenomenon. It's just one that is more pronounced with two-car drafts. 

"When I started, the political games were (when) the teams when went to restrictor plate tracks and tried to not show their hand until race day," Tony Stewart said Friday at Martinsville. "Then NASCAR got chassis dynos and things they could pull after the race and figure out exactly what was going on, so that gave NASCAR a more accurate assessment of what the situation really was."

Stewart pointed out NASCAR "really can't control" what drivers do once on the race track, since it is difficult to determine whether drivers are pairing up because of team ordersmanufacturer suggestions or by their own accord.

 

For Jeff Gordon, who was left late in the race by Trevor Bayne for another Ford, committing to running only with your manufacturer could potentially hurt your chances at victory.

"If I feel like, on the last-lap restart, I can push a Toyota to get to the front and then leave him out coming to the line," he said, "I think that's a win for me and for our manufacturer is the way I look at it. I feel like I used (the Toyota) to get me there. So I think that's even an added bonus."

 

While some teams have denied the issuing of team orders, Stewart argued if you simply paused your television and looked at the pairings, "It pretty much tells the story of what is going on."

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how it's evolving that way because of the two-car draft," he said. 

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