By admin | October 23, 2011
By Richard Allen
There is no doubt that someone within the Ford Racing organization developed a plan coming into this past weekend’s race at the Talladega SuperSpeedway. And, there’s no doubt that plan drew the ire of at least two of Chevrolet’s championship drivers before, during and after Sunday’s event on the 2.66 mile track.
Throughout this season the racing at NASCAR’s two restrictor plate facilities in Daytona and Talladega has taken on an unusual form with drivers racing in groups of tight two car drafts. Every driver in the field is only as good as his so called ‘dance partner’ as the tandems allow for maximum speed when executed properly but significantly slower speeds when the groupings come apart.
Taking that into consideration, virtually every driver came into this Sunday’s Good Sam 500 Sprint Cup race knowing who his drafting partner would be. And it was pretty obvious that the Ford teams planned on a policy of exclusivity with so many Chase for the Championship implications for Roush Fenway Racing drivers Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.
Prior to arriving in Talladega, Ford team owner Jack Roush sent out an edict that instructed any and all drivers using Roush Yates Engines that they were to assist no other Chase contending drivers on Sunday.
Chevrolet’s Tony Stewart immediately took exception due to the fact that he had worked well with Ford driver David Gilliland in other plate races held this season. In a pre-race interview with the MRN Radio Network he said that Roush had vetoed the pairing that had been beneficial to both in previous races.
In that interview Stewart declared of Roush that, “There are some people in the garage area who could make his life miserable over the next five weeks.” Apparently, the implication is that Edwards and Kenseth may receive very little cooperation from those who drive other brands as the NASCAR playoff winds down.
Stewart received help primarily from Ryan Newman and Joey Logano throughout most of the day but no Ford driver pushed or was pushed by the two time champion for more than a brief moment.
During the race it was Jeff Gordon who was most angered by Ford’s team instructions. In particular, during the race’s final caution period Gordon believed his team had struck a deal with Ford driver Trevor Bayne for the two to assist one another. However, when the green flag waved for the remaining two laps the reigning Daytona 500 champion went with Kenseth and left Gordon ‘hung out to dry’.
Upon seeing what had happened, Gordon shouted, “He dicked us! He screwed us!” into his team radio.
After the race the four time champion’s tirade toward Bayne continued. “That’s one for the record books,” Gordon told his spotter over the team radio. “We’ll remember that.”
Both Stewart and Gordon vowed revenge to some degree against Ford drivers as a result of that manufacturer’s pre-race plan. However, at least for now it appears as though the Ford camp came out of the weekend in good shape. Even though a Chevrolet won the Talladega event, Edwards and Kenseth are placed 1st and 2nd in the championship standings.
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