By admin | October 24, 2011
By Richard Allen
At the young age of 21, Trevor Bayne has experienced more ups and downs in his relatively brief racing life than many drivers twice his age. This season has served as a microcosm of his entire career, and after Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in Talladega he appears to be in the midst of another down time.
Bayne has had rides at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Diamond-Waltrip Racing pulled out from under him only to land with Roush Fenway Racing and the Wood Brothers in a situation that produced an unlikely Daytona 500 victory this past February. Then, a mysterious illness sidelined the driver during the middle stages of 2011.
Throughout much of the Good Sam Club 500 the Knoxville, Tennessee native worked with veteran Robby Gordon as the pair negotiated lap after lap employing the 2×2 form of racing that has become the norm at Talladega and Daytona. However, after Gordon’s Dodge suffered body damage Bayne was left to find another partner. For a while, the #21 car worked with fellow Ford driver Marcos Ambrose.
But it was at the end of the race where Bayne ran into a fateful crossroads. With Ambrose having suffered body damage in a late race crash and Robby Gordon not around, he needed a partner.
One driver who had also just lost his mate was Jeff Gordon and so spotters worked to hastily piece together a deal between the two. At first, it appeared as though the tandem, who had successfully worked together during a qualifying race in Daytona back in February, would make an attempt to rekindle that magic.
However, when Ford driver and Chase for the Championship contender Matt Kenseth suddenly needed help due to the engine troubles of his partner, David Ragan, Bayne switched lanes and offered his assistance to Kenseth. Keep in mind that a well publicized directive had been sent out to all Ford drivers earlier in the weekend that they were to aid Kenseth and Carl Edwards should the need arise.
Gordon was immediately angered. “He dicked us!” the four time champion yelled into his team radio. “He screwed us!” Adding later that it was a move he would not soon forget.
After the race the young driver was clearly disappointed at the way things had played out. And to express his feelings, he went to the Twitter social networking site. “I’m not happy about what this has become… It’s too premeditated. We should be able to go with whoever is around,” Bayne tweeted. Also adding that, “I would have rather pulled over & finished last than tell @JeffGordonWeb I’d work w/ him and then be strong armed into bailing.”
Unfortunately, comments made in the heat of the moment cannot be taken back and are often remembered for a long time. And it has been both those he helped and didn’t help who have taken exception.
Kenseth retorted on Twitter that, “Wow…..for the record I had no verbal contact with @tbayne21 today, or for that matter weeks. Not sure who “strong armed” him but I assure you it wasn’t me.”
Ford, and its primary team, Roush Fenway Racing, has proven to be rather clannish. A comment by a driver that he was “strong armed” out of a decision to help a Chase contender who drives a Chevrolet may not sit too well with the powers that be within that organization.
Bayne considers Jeff Gordon to be one of his heroes and was clearly upset that he had to back out of a deal that apparently had been struck. However, the best course of action in this case would have likely been to just say nothing at all. But most importantly, not angering those who hold his future in hand would be a personal imperative for the driver.
With sponsorships hard to come by, even Daytona 500 winners have to mind what they say in today’s NASCAR.
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