Team Orders? Not At Joe Gibbs Racing!

Edwards at Richmond

Dale Earnhardt Jr. wouldn’t have done it to Jimmie Johnson, though I’d suspect Johnson would to Junior. All bets would be off if SHR’s Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart were battling 1-2 on the final lap. As the final lap played at the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond, the question racing through our minds was “Will he or won’t he?” Carl Edwards knocked teammate and leader Kyle Busch loose, and took the checkered flag.

This is one reason why NASCAR has it over Formula One (see Rubens Barrichello-Michael Schumacher incident at the 2002 Austrian GP for reference). Yes- supposedly those days are over as a matter of policy, but what about the Sebastian Vettel-Mark Webber incident in 2013 at the Malaysian Grand Prix? Webber sure looked like a racer disappointed at Vettel’s failure to “be a good teammate.” We’ve often wondered about the inner workings at Hendrick Motorsports on the issue. Edwards has confirmed ANY competitor will be raced hard- stable mate or not at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Frankly, it’s refreshing in this politically correct day and age to see someone actually lay out for a win. Let’s also keep in mind that the “bump and run” is a different breed of cat than the “bump and dump.” While being the receiving end of contact, Busch still managed to cross the finish line second. Most reasonable fans agree the maneuver is acceptable form in pursuit of a win (unless of course, it happens to YOUR driver). The final lap move at the Toyota Owners 400 was classic bump and run.

To the Kyle Busch fans, ask yourself this: what if the roles were reversed? Would your driver lay a fender to Edwards? Sunday’s winner believes Busch would have moved him if given the opportunity. Heck, put Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth in that position. No question- if given a chance- someone is getting moved.

Now I have no doubt that Kyle Busch was upset (but he kept it under control, to be fair), and I think Edwards would understand. We’re told there will be conversations between the principals this week. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall there! Still, Busch’s comments (or better yet what he didn’t say) spoke volumes. In another day and time, that incident would have been ugly.

Worst case scenario? Someday the roles WILL be reversed, given the way the Joe Gibbs Racing cars are running these days, and Busch will apply the same tactic with Edwards. Carl won’t like it, but he’ll accept it (or running the risk of being labeled a hypocrite).

This is the way racing should be at Joe Gibbs Racing or any other race team. You race to win. Carl Edwards raced Kyle Busch hard, but didn’t race him dirty. As Busch himself said……that’s racing.