Posted September 13, 2013

Brian Vickers writes editorial defending his team, actions in Chase scandal

More Sports, NASCAR
Brian Vickers wrote an USA Today editorial defending his team's actions. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Brian Vickers wrote a USA Today editorial defending his team’s actions. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The suspicious actions of Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers to aid teammate Martin Truex Jr. at Richmond and qualify for a spot in the Chase landed the team $350,000 in fines and NASCAR removing Truex from the Chase.

Bowyer appeared to deliberately spin out to aid Truex. Vickers, who inexplicably slowed down during the final laps to aid Truex, has issued a response via an editorial in USA Today defending his team against NASCAR’s penalties, as well as, public and media outrage.

From USA Today:

To all interested parties, the easy thing to do when faced with situations such as these is to say nothing and do nothing. But the right thing to do is defend what you believe in. Unfortunately, the “right thing” and the “easy thing” are rarely one in the same. What I believe in is this team. The Michael Waltrip Racing organization is made up of the most honorable and quality group of people I have ever worked with in my life. It starts with Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip, the team owners. Those two guys have a passion for racing and NASCAR equal to or greater than anyone in that garage. Their level of appreciation and respect for this sport inspires me every day I work with them. And they have spent the last decade or more hiring and building a team of like-minded individuals who put their hearts and souls into making these cars and teams the very best they can be. I am proud to say I’m a driver at Michael Waltrip Racing.

Vickers explains the negative financial effects that his team and their families could experience:

People are saying a lot of things about this team right now without considering the consequences. This team is more than just the few people you see every weekend. This team is hundreds of hardworking men and women who strive every single day to win in the most honorable way possible. They are not cheaters. Few people these days take time to consider the effect the words they write can have on these hardworking families. If our amazing partners were pressured to the extent of pulling out, hundreds of families would lose their means of income. You should consider this next time you decide to rant on Twitter about something without having all the facts.

Vickers defends his team’s “split-second decision” that led to the incident and penalties and says others would have done the same:

As Michael addressed in his statement, Ty Norris, MWR’s general manager and my spotter, had a split-second decision to make that could help this team in a major way. He didn’t have some grand strategy to manipulate the race. He was thinking about all the hardworking people on this team and what they put into making the Chase.

Every weekend, every team in that garage goes on the track to win and put on the very best race they possibly can to honor fans — past, present and future. And to honor this great sport, NASCAR. MWR is no exception, but sometimes your race doesn’t evolve as you planned and you’re not battling for the win or the Chase. But oftentimes, your teammate is and you try to help him, whether it’s by giving him your setup or maybe it’s letting him lead a lap during the race, or maybe it’s even giving him that one spot he needs to win the championship. Do you think that if you were running in 21st position and your teammate needed that one spot to win the championship, you wouldn’t give it to him? You think that doesn’t happen every race, every year? You think that if Jimmie Johnson was in front of Jeff Gordon he wouldn’t give it to him? You think Mark Martin wouldn’t have given a spot to Ryan Newman or Brad Keselowski to Joey Logano? They would — and they have.

Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have acknowledged that teammates help each other all the time, but somehow, us pitting has crossed the line? Where is that line?

ANDERSON: NASCAR had to come down hard on Chase cheating scandal

Vickers explains his interpretation of the rules and acknowledges competition can be “a very slippery slope.”

My interpretation of the rules is as follows: I’m driving the car and can drive it how I like — pit when we like, pass whomever I want and let whomever I want to pass me, whenever I want to. If those are not the rules, and if my team and I are not in control of our car and our race, and if we have to race how we’re told and pit when we are told, then someone needs to clarify that and define the rules as such, including who would tell us. There is currently no rule that states you can’t help a teammate or give a teammate your position if you choose. If we as competitors and fans of this amazing sport would like to have that rule, then let’s write it. Maybe something to the effect of: “No two or more cars of the same owner may take any action that supports or helps his teammate by any means.” Now before the pendulum swings in that direction, it is important to acknowledge that this is a very slippery slope and would be extremely difficult to police.

This approach undoubtedly would come with unintended consequences, not to mention have what I believe to be a negative impact on the quality and excitement of each race. But until this rule is in place, don’t condemn our team or any other team that takes the same actions every single weekend.

Vickers says he will always stand by his teammates because it’s the right thing to do:

Every lap we take, every car we pass, every pit stop we make changes the outcome of the race. Are we free to choose what and when those moments are or not? You can’t have it both ways.

If helping a teammate, friend and brother in arms is a crime, then I’m guilty. I didn’t make that call to pit last Saturday nor did I even understand why we did it at the time. But if my teammate(s) needed me again and it was of no consequence to me, my team or our partners, I would make the same decision time and time again.

So if death by a firing squad is what you want, then add me to the lineup. I stand by my team, not because it’s easy but because it is right!


23 comments
kevin todd
kevin todd

Excuses excuses. Your whole team got caught cheating and were penalized.

MorganCure
MorganCure

Mr.Vickers picks bad choice johnson/gordon...ive seen those two battle.niether one gives an inch.

bhayes420
bhayes420

I have absolutely NO problem with what Vickers is talking about.  Teammates letting teammates pass has gone on since NASCAR started.  What bothers me is what Bowyer did.  He spun on the track.  He put other drivers in danger.  At Richmond, that crash could have easily involved 4 or 5 other cars/drivers who were just minding their own business.  And yet, he wasn't penalized to the extent that it hurt his chase chances at all!  That's where NASCAR got it wrong!  

mikeblenkarn
mikeblenkarn

This happens EVERY WEEK!  The only reason this became an issue is that it was race 26, or the last race before the chase.  A driver letting a teammate pass to lead a lap and get a point is just as much a manipulation of the points and possibly the chase standings, but that has gone on forever and no one has ever said anything about it.  Same could be said about teammates slowing down to get "hooked up" on a restrictor plate tracks, how is slowing down to allow your teammate to come up and draft off with you any different?  It is still a manipulation of the results.  As long as you allow there to be teams in racing you have to accept that there will be some manipulation as well.  This has gone on for as long as i have been a NASCAR fan, some 25+ years now, i can not see why it was such a big deal all of a sudden.  If this exact situation had occurred during race 16 not race 26 it would not have been an issue.  What people should really be upset about is the inconsistent and unexplainable rule enforcement, or in this case rule creation, from the powers that be in NASCAR

LeightonVanSickel
LeightonVanSickel

Come on, Vickers, - you should have remained quiet  - you were basically following orders, and, no, I don't think Ty Norris, or Michael Waltrip were thinking about their employees.  They were reckless, and suffered for it.   Why not JUST DO THE RIGHT THING????   However, after today's meeting, I think NASCAR spelled it out pretty loud and clear.  You said you would do it until they told you they couldn't.  Guess, what they told you.  So, quit. 

Me!
Me!

Brian Vickers should have kept his mouth shut. Most people stuck up for him (including me) because he was obviously (from his radio communication) oblivious to what was going on. Now here he is condoning what his team did. Now I don't feel bad for him for losing positions, points, and money. I feel embarrassed for him now.

lebovicj
lebovicj

How is it cheating if the violation is in the opinion of NASCAR not a listed rule?

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

Another thing about Clint Bowyer going on ESPN this week and stating that he doesn't have a crystal ball to know exactly how the race would end and who would get into the Chase or not.  That probably is the worst lie about all of this.  The ONLY thing he had to know before his self-induced spin was that if Newman won the race then Truex is out of the Chase.  Plain and simple - that's all he had to know and the person interviewing him should have come back at him with that simple question -  if Newman wins, who is out of the Chase?

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

Well it was a nicely written piece by Vickers who somehow sounded above it all and naive at the same time.  He said it was split second decision to have him pit with less than three laps to go.  But was it a split second decision to have Bowyer spin right after finding out that Newman was now leading the race?   Was it a split second decision to have you and Bowyer slow down significantly during those last three laps in order to allow someone to pass to get into the Chase?  That's a lot of split second decisions.  Does Vickers not think that MWR manipulated the outcome of the race?  Vickers writes of all of the fine people who work for MWR.  Does he not think that of all of those employees there isn't one person whose job it is to figure out what is needed to be done on the track to get advantages for the drivers?

I agree there is some of the same tactics used by other teams to gain advantages and cheat to advance their cars into the Chase.  But to do it so blatantly stupid over the in-car radios and then lie about while congratulating someone for being a great teammate after the race is beyond what Vickers calls 'honorable'.  I think Vickers needs to know what the word 'honor' means.



Palamino
Palamino

Hey Vickers, your team cheated by manipulating the outcome of the race. You got caught and MW accepted the penalties without an appeal. That action alone is as good as an admission of guilt. Don't make things worse by still denying what happened. Just learn from the mistakes and move on. 

AlanBP
AlanBP

Whether something is cheating depends on who does it.  Brian is right.  MWR didn't do a thing that isn't being done by others, including Jeff the whiner and holier than thou Junior.  No one ranted and raved when Denny Hamlin did exactly the same thing as Vickers at the Richmond race last year.  Why not?  Now, even worse is the Logano thing.  Penske bribed another team to take a fall and got PROBATION.  Are you kidding me?  Is this a sick joke?  In any professional sport, both Penske and Front Row would be banned.  

Pat11
Pat11

How can this dellusional punk use terms like "honor" and "honerable" to describe the MWR team when they cheated other teams that were better them. I wouldn't cheat for myself much less than my teammates, I guess sportsmanship and integrity are dead in this sport.

BillStPete
BillStPete

"I’m driving the car and can drive it how I like — pit when we like, pass whomever I want and let whomever I want to pass me, whenever I want to."


Which is probably why you don't race for a Hendrick anymore.

HDCHAZ
HDCHAZ

You're right Brian. You can't have it both ways. Cheating is cheating. You can call it helping your teammates if that makes you more comfortable with it, but it's obvious to most of us that your team manipulated the race and the outcome of the Chase. You got caught and fined for doing so. NASCAR seemed very clear about why fines were levied and what rules were broken.

If you're concerned about the families of all of your teammates and their livelihoods, then your team shouldn't break the rules.

Racing is about building the best car you can within the rules and finishing first. Rules shouldn't be manipulated to give "Teams" an unfair advantage over independent drivers. Period. When the day comes where you have to be a multi-millionaire to participate in NASCAR, the sport will completely lose it's personal nature and it will turn into some kind of corporate driven spectacle that's all about the companies and not about the people.

LFC
LFC

Everything Brian stated is the TRUTH!   NASCAR is on the verge of calling the winner before the race even gets started. I've been a fan of race cars for over 40 years but, it's now getting to the point that I don'e even care to watch it on TV let alone buying a ticket too the next race. France needs to get out of the business and go soak up some sun he is doing nothing but hurt the sport. I for one would like Rusty Wallace run Nascar

Did you see this in the article

Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have acknowledged that teammates help each other all the time, but somehow, us pitting has crossed the line? Where is that line?

If JJ did this to help Gordon we would have heard nothing about it.


calmcbr
calmcbr

The Chase system has become the end all be all for everyone, not just those who work MWR. Helping a team member in the course of a single race during the season is not the same as determining who does not get into the Chase. Sponsors become losers then teams lose from the owner, driver and every other employee in that garage. I never have liked the Chase for a variety of reasons. Please add this to the list. 

SCOTT67
SCOTT67

Whoever wrote that for Brian Vickers did a nice job, however his job is to race his car the best he can or those hundreds of people will be out of jobs. I wonder how Brian would feel if someone did that to him to cost him a place in the Chase.

FeatherRiverDan1
FeatherRiverDan1

If they just hired me to drive for millions of dollars i would say the same thing.....

You race to win,not let a teammate pass you if you do your a loser its called integrity......

Also there are rules for going 79 mph when everyone else is doing 120....look it up!!!!!!!

mikeblenkarn
mikeblenkarn

@bhayes420 If there was a way to PROVE Bowyer spun on purpose i would agree.  But ask yourself this, if none of the other actions \ radio messages came out would you have thought that was a deliberate spin or just he lost control with a flat or old tires?

 I agree that IF the spin was intentional it should be punished severely, but no one has shown any evidence to prove it was and since i would not have thought it was if none of the other stuff came out, i will give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.  It is entirely possible he did it on purpose, but i have not seen anything to be able to say it was with any confidence.

mikeblenkarn
mikeblenkarn

@LeightonVanSickel Problem with your logic is it assumes no one else has ever done anything to manipulate the outcome of a race.  If i was Waltrip i would be suing NASCAR for making up new rules, or choosing to enforce other rules differently, mid-season and after the fact.  If NASCAR did not like how this went, fine then put in proper rules for next year.  All they have done here is prove that NASCAR as an organization has no integrity, not that i think many people really thought they did anymore.

mikeblenkarn
mikeblenkarn

@HDCHAZ Time to wake up!  You already have to be a multi-millionaire team to compete in NASCAR.  It already IS a corporate driven spectacle all about the companies.  Teams already do have an unfair advantage.  To have the dream world you seem to live in NASCAR would have to ban teams and information sharing of any kind, instead they pretended to still want to allow independent teams by limiting teams to 4 cars.  That does nothing though as you still have arrangements like between the Stewart-Haas and Hendrick teams, where for all intents and purposes the S-H team is just an extension of Hendrick.  The days of NASCAR being about the people ended a long time ago unfortunately.

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

@LFC Vickers was incredulous when first asked to pit.  There was three laps left in the race.  He asked if he had a tire going down or something was wrong with the car.  And his crew chief said "we need that one point" meaning it would get Truex into the Chase.   So instead of racing to the end Vickers pitted and then along with Bowyer slowed down significantly the last two laps.  That is not racing.  that is manipulating the outcome of the race and the Chase.