Are Team Orders Becoming an Issue at Kevin Harvick Incorperated?

Ashley McCubbinAnalyst IMarch 30, 2010

FONTANA, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Ron Hornaday (L), driver of the #33 Camping World Chevrolet, talks with team owner Kevin Harvick (R) before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series San Bernardino County 200 at Auto Club Speedway on February 21, 2009 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

On the final restart in this past weekend’s truck series Kroger 200, Kevin Harvick played a card as an owner, setting up what he believed would help both teams.

He set himself to start on the outside with teammate Ron Hornaday on the inside and relayed careful instructions over the radio for Hornaday to let him come down in front of him.

So the question that begs to ask is are team orders starting to influence NASCAR races?

Most teams don’t follow team orders, except maybe teammates working together to get each other five bonus points. However, this is the second incident where Harvick has gone with team orders.

The first incident was at Loudon, New Hampshire last year when he told Hornaday to let him pass him so he could have a shot at possibly passing the leader Kyle Busch. Hornaday didn’t follow the instructions as he said that if Harvick wanted a shot at Busch, he had to get by him the right way.

After the race, Harvick instructed that there was to be a team meeting on Monday to talk about working better in the future.

In looking back at this situation, however, I got one question to ask Harvick—if you couldn’t get by Hornaday, how do you think you were going to catch Busch and pass him?

Back to the Martinsville incident, Harvick proclaimed to call the move as he did for two reasons. The first reason was because he had the quicker truck so therefore there’d be no point in racing side-by-side. The second reason was he was worried that Hornaday would get hung out and fall back in the running order.

There’s two parts to this equation that raise questions—first Harvick’s part and then Hornaday’s part.

Harvick said when he hired Hornaday to drive his truck that he was hiring him because he could win races. However by telling Hornaday to just let Harvick pass him so he could win, isn’t that going against that purpose?

Plus, how is Harvick to know that he has the better truck between them? They hadn’t been side-by-side racing evenly all day as Hornaday was overcoming the bad start, which in return was due to the rain and Harvick’s making.

Before the season, Harvick swapped the owner’s points between the No. 33 and No. 2 trucks so therefore in case of rain, the No. 2 wouldn’t make the race. The rain at Martinsville rained out qualifying in return causing Harvick to get pole while Hornaday started 31st.

Though in speaking of Hornaday, he has an equal amount of the blame on his shoulders with this incident.

Harvick relayed the instructions and set it up by choosing the outside, however Hornaday didn’t have to follow the boss’ orders. He could’ve raced Harvick for the win and then took the yelling from Harvick after, stating that he had an equal right to race for the win. By allowing him to go forward with his plan, it makes it look as if Hornaday is Harvick’s little puppet.

In conclusion, there are only two things to say about this.

Harvick has to realize that he can’t hold the world in his hand and twist it however he pleases. How would he feel if Richard Childress told him to do the same thing with Clint Bowyer or Jeff Burton, yet with him on the other side of the coin?

Hornaday has to step up and tell Harvick that he’s not going to listen to orders as such and that they need to race each other for wins and position.


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