Well, Talladega told a story before the green flag dropped on Sunday. This Chase has proven to be one that no one will ever forget. But team orders, manufacturer vs manufacturer, and where fans took things too far.
So who is to blame? Trevor Bayne or the team order handed down by his owner? Some say Bayne “lied” and cost Jeff Gordon the championship. Others say that team orders, Jack Roush or even Matt Kenseth had something to do with this.
As we approached the end of the 500-mile race at the Talladega Superspeedway, Jeff Gordon restarted eighth on the final restart, while Trevor Bayne restarted ninth. Gordon had lost his ‘dancing partner’ earlier – Mark Martin – as he was involved in an incident, so Gordon was in desperation mode when it came to finding someone to ‘tango’ with late Sunday afternoon.
Gordon planned on hooking up with Bayne in hopes of winning Sunday but those plans would be ‘slightly’ altered, as Bayne had different plans once the green flag dropped for the final time. Instead of Bayne pushing Gordon, Bayne was being pushed by Matt Kenseth, forcing Gordon to drop back at a rapid pace.
Gordon would finish P27, while Bayne would finish P15.
“When we lost Mark (Martin), when you lose your drafting partner, you do all that you can and we did all that we could. The unfortunate part is that we made a deal with somebody and they reneged on it after we took the green,’’ said Gordon.
Gordon later went on to say, “I didn’t expect him to agree. I came on his radio and asked him and he said, “Yeah man, I’m pushing you, we’re good, let’s go, let’s go.’ We talked about it, so I thought we were good. Definitely apprehensive in the back of my mind, but all he had to say was, “No I can’t or the team could have come on and said, “No, I’m sorry you can’t do it.’ But the way it was handled … that’s racing. You don’t expect somebody to just be loyal to you.’’
“I think everybody knew coming into the weekend, the Fords made it very clear about what they were doing in working with one another and helping one another out and all those things. So I didn’t expect him to commit to me on the radio. I expected him to say, ‘Man, I’m sorry; I can’t.’ And when he said, ‘Yeah, I’m pushing you; we’re good’; I believed him. But I think they had a different plan.”
Bayne had a different story. This was from his Twitter account after the race:
“I’m not happy about what this has become… It’s too premeditated. We should be able to go with whoever is around (us).
“I would have rather pulled over and finished last than tell (Jeff Gordon) I would work with him and then be strong-armed into bailing.’’
Comment From Roush Fenway Racing:
Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing told SceneDaily.com about the issue of team orders, saying: “No one at Roush gave a specific instruction to Trevor about what he had to do in that situation. Everyone in the sport expects teammates to assist each other but in that situation, it’s a free-for-all.”
Needless to say, who is to blame? Sure it seems like Bayne left Gordon out in the dust, but isn’t this a dog-eat-dog kind of world? Is that even a valid excuse? If it were me, I would feel more comfortable going 200 mph with an ‘indirect’ teammate, than to draft (and possibly push to the win) a driver whom is considered a rival.
But, this DID NOT cost Jeff Gordon the championship folks! His blown engine and horrible Chase Race finishes are where his troubles began and have thrown him out of the Championship contention. Also, we all knew that Jack said Fords will help Fords alone and with having Matt Kenseth being in the thick of the hunt…well, we all saw that Kenseth pushed Bayne and Bayne is now the scapegoat for Jack Roush.