Don’t do it. Just don’t do it.
That’s the message the NTT IndyCar Series has reiterated to its championship-contending teams in regard to employing team orders to try and alter the outcome of Sunday’s title showdown.
After a qualifying session that saw four of the five protagonists struggle and earn disadvantageous starting positions, series officials will be keeping watchful eyes on Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing to ensure no efforts are made to manipulate the outcome of the race by having their drivers help each other or hinder their rivals. The time-honored tradition of adding a few extra seconds to a pit stop to allow a teammate to leapfrog another is also on the series’ radar.
Citing Rule 9.3.4., Team Tactics and/or Team Orders, the series has given itself plenty of latitude to act if it believes foul play is at hand: “Team tactics and/or Team orders are actions or omissions by one or more Members to artificially influence, affect, alter, and/or otherwise interfere with the normal course of an on-Track Event. Team tactics and/or Team orders are not permitted.
“If IndyCar determines one or more Members attempted to or engaged in Team Tactics and/or Team Orders, IndyCar may issue a penalty to any or all of the Members, including without limitation any or all of a Team’s Car/Driver combinations.”
For those who were curious as to why Team Penske failed to instruct Scott McLaughlin — its driver with the longest championship odds — to move aside at Portland and let championship leader Will Power improve from second to first and earn the 10 extra points for the win, Rule 9.3.4 was the answer.