There was a controversy at Martinsville Speedway when Erik Jones seemed to take team orders to aid Denny Hamlin in his pursuit of a place in Championship 4.
The controversy was due to Jones’ spotter Rick Carelli asked him to not pass Hamlin. He said on the team radio:
“Don’t pass him, Jones. Stay with him and drive what you can.”
Jones was right behind Hamlin who was in the 12th position. If Jones overtook Hamlin, he might have risked losing his spot in the Championship 4. In the end, Hamlin qualified by finishing 11th.
While the incident escaped any penalties, former NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett was not in favor of such actions during a race. He is of the opinion that team orders should not influence the outcome of the race. However, he admitted that with the multi-car team system, such things might happen.
NASCAR: After conducting a review of the on-track competition and 20 team radio communication from Sunday’s race at Martinsville, NASCAR will not issue any penalties to the 20 team.
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) November 2, 2020
Drivers should be able to win races or qualify with their own ability, Jarrett added.
Hamlin will be up against Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott at Phoenix in a bid to win his first championship.