Is there such a thing as radio etiquette in NASCAR?
Driver Jamie McMurray isn’t saying there needs to be, but he subscribes to a theory that the less said the better when on-track tempers become frayed.
“I think I do a better job of hiding it than everybody else,” McMurray said at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week. “I also don’t key (turn on) the radio when I’m mad or when I have something to say. I don’t know why people key the radio to announce to the world what they are feeling.”
There are few windows during a race that offer a clearer view – audio, at least – of what is going on than by listening to the in-car radio conversations between driver and crew chief or driver and spotter. And the conversations are out there for all to hear, with radios available to fans at the track and a media corps that’s always eager to tweet what it hears.
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A few examples:
During last week’s Xfinity race at Indianapolis, race-leader Kyle Busch offered a sarcastic “Thanks, NASCAR,” when a late caution flag came out (Busch went on to win the race).
When Jeff Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson fussed at each other during a late caution at Pocono in June, spotter Eddie D’Hondt had to verbally intervene from atop the Tricky Triangle’s grandstands.
“Guys, let’s settle down,” said D’Hondt.
Then there was an angry Trevor Bayne last week at Indianapolis, who was fed up with Aric Almirola.
“It’s bull crap!” Bayne said to crew chief Bob Osborne (and whomever else was listening in). “He tried killing me in both corners and now he wants to lock up the brakes when I’m coming up on caution!”
All of which leaves McMurray, known as one of the Sprint Cup circuit’s more laid-back characters anyway, thinking in terms that go behind the pit box and spotter’s stand.
“I have two kids who love watching NASCAR,” said McMurray, 39. “I don’t want them to hear that. I’ve never been the guy to key the radio and say that, but after having kids you are consciously … not going to put that out there.”
He also doesn’t want to offend the folks paying the bills.
“Not only if there are kids and people scanning, but also for McDonald’s, for Cessna, for all of our partners,” said McMurray. “There are a lot of people in the suites that are listening and I just don’t think that is appropriate.”
McMurray is quick to remind that he’s not always able to hold his tongue when he gets irritated on the track. It’s just something of which he’s cognizant.
“I just say it to myself and have my own moment inside the car,” said McMurray. “Every once in a while I lose it and I key the radio. Whether I’m yelling at the spotter or yelling at something that is going or I’m mad at someone, I want them to go talk to. But most of the time I just don’t. I just keep it to myself and I move on.
“I have moments just like everybody else. I just don’t let everyone see it.”
And what makes it possible for McMurray to keep his thoughts to himself?
“My brain,” he said.
David Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14