29 October 2011
Hendrick and Roush reject controversies
"The #48 organization knows that from this occurrence that their car could likely be a regular customer at the R&D Center for [more detailed] post-race inspection the balance of this season," confirmed spokesman Kerry Tharp.
Roush Fenway Racing was also feeling uncomfortably in the glare of the media's headlights after Talladega, after the Ford-backed team had appeared to order Trevor Bayne to abandon his agreed drafting alliance with Chevrolet-powered Jeff Gordon in the final minutes of the race and switch instead to back Matt Kenseth.
Although Bayne is an RFR junior driver at Nationwide level, he was racing in the Wood Brothers #21 Ford car in the Talladega Cup race. He had agreed to work with Jeff Gordon at the final restart, but then Matt Kenseth's RFR team mate David Ragan developed a problem and the team were alleged to have issued instructions to Bayne to drop Gordon immediately and switch to support Kenseth for the final laps.
"I'm as upset it turned out that way as anyone," Bayne later posted on Twitter. I'm so sick about all this. I won't race restrictor plate races next year before I'm put in that situation," he continued. "I'm not happy about what this has become... It's too premeditated. We should be able to go with whoever is around is."
But team owner Jack Roush denied that team orders had played any part in what had happened.
"There were no team orders, from myself or anyone at Roush Fenway, given to any of our drivers as to whom they could or could not choose to run with or assist, nor did I give similar directions or suggestion to any of the other Ford drivers," Roush said in a team statement on Tuesday.
"We expect our individual drivers to make decisions that put themselves in the best position to win each and every race," continued Roush. "That is a philosophy that we have lived by for over two decades, and one that we will continue to abide by going forward.
"Of course, as in any team, we would prefer for our drivers to work together when possible. However, to be clear, we did not micromanage or dictate to any of our drivers, nor any other Ford drivers, how to race with other drivers at Talladega last Sunday."
Bayne himself went on a radio interview during the week to clarify his remarks. "We said if a Ford needs us, we're going to help them," he told Sirius XM Radio. "It wasn't like Jack Roush came on the radio and said, 'Hey, go tell Jeff you'll work with him and then leave him.' It was none of that. It was just the fact that with two laps to go with there was a Ford on our bumper and he didn't have a drafting partner.
"At that point, it's a tough decision because I've given Ford my word all week long and then you've got Jeff Gordon in front of you, who you want to work with and who you just talked to about working with and then everything changes in a matter of a lap.
"I was caught in the worst situation I could have ever been in," he added. "At that point, I'm sitting here with a guy in front of me that I knew I had an opportunity to win the race with and he's my childhood hero and he's helped me. And then I've got my team mate behind me that needs me that I committed all week to help. It just happened so fast."
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