NASCAR warning: No team orders
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR officials met with owners of the three drivers competing for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship on Sunday morning to make it clear teammates and team orders that could influence the outcome would not be tolerated.
Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton backed that up in the driver's meeting by saying, "Remember, 'have at it' does have its limits."
Sunday's meeting with NASCAR included Joe Gibbs, Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress, whose drivers -- Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick -- are separated by only 46 points heading into the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Hendrick said NASCAR wanted to make sure there were no influences outside the three drivers involved deciding the title, as there have been in other forms of motorsports. For example, Felipe Massa arrived at this year's Brazilian Grand Prix saying he would give way to Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso if that's what it took to win the Formula One title.
"This is a great Chase and they want to let it play out," said Hendrick, who is going for a fifth straight title with Johnson, 15 points behind Hamlin. "That's what everybody wants to do. That was it.
"It was good to get together, but we've got a lot of respect for each other. Nobody wants to win a championship like that. So we're good."
Meanwhile, Hendrick said no decision has been made on whether to make a crew chief change for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"We're going to all get together next week," Hendrick said. "We've got to focus on this and then we can get things started [for next year]."
Reminded earlier this year Hendrick said he was committed to make the team of Earnhardt and crew chief Lance McGrew work, he said, "I'm still committed to making that work. We've got to get everybody through this, sit down. That's not something I do by myself."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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