Ford and Jack Roush made waves this weekend after word seeped out of the camp that the teams were directed to draft exclusively with their manufacturing counterparts. With two Roush Fords in serious contention for the championship it wasn’t a surprising edict – especially not from Jack Roush.
At the end of the race we saw what appeared to be the edict in action as Trevor Bayne gave up drafting with Jeff Gordon to draft with Matt Kenseth. The move was bad news for Gordon who ended up finishing way back in 27th. Bayne and Kenseth finished 15th and 18th.
The help kept Kenseth in contention, moving him to second in the points just 14 back from teammate Carl Edwards. And after everything, not doing damage is the most important thing at a place like Talladega.
The track serves as THE wild card race in the Chase where literally anything can happen. That uncertainty leads teams to do everything they can to control the things they can. This is why you see teams like Roush and manufacturers like Ford letting their drivers know where loyalties need to lie.
In this instance there seems to be some surprise that Bayne switched dancing partners choosing a teammate over a potentially better pairing. But it makes sense when considering what was at stake: a championship, a precarious future and a whole lot of money. Would you not have done the same?
Success in this sport involves reliance on those who are around you. That goes for the Ford teams, the Chevrolet teams, the Dodge teams and the Toyota teams. While the Roush and Ford team orders are the only ones that made the press this weekend there were no doubt similar understandings at organizations throughout the sport. Consider the other teams on track. Who was working with whom?
The Fords were with the Fords, the Chevrolets with the Chevrolets and on and on.
At superspeedways you draft with who brung ya – it’s true for EVERY manufacturer and EVERY team. While it’s unfortunate for those left out, it’s a cold hard fact.