Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne caused a bit of controversy during Sunday’s NASCAR race when he agreed to help Jeff Gordon but then backed down on his promise after the green flag dropped.
With two laps remaining Bayne (No. 21 Ford) radioed to Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet) to offer his help on a track that requires having a single drafting partner, however as the race neared completion and Matt Kenseth approached Bayne’s bumper he helped Kenseth and claimed it was all because of loyalty to Ford.
“I was just ready to go with Jeff and work with him,” Bayne told Sirius XM Radio on Tuesday. “We took the green flag and the 6 car (Ford driven by David Ragan) blew up. When the 6 car blows up, Matt Kenseth pulls up to our bumper and then there’s a Ford in need, which we committed to all week.”
“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.
“It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had come up in my career to be between two drivers and (knowing you) can’t keep all three cars together.”
Trying to show his support for Gordon who fell to 27th place with no drafting partner Bayne ran over to Gordon’s car to apologize, after the race Gordon said of the incident:
“I believed him. I just think it could have been handled better,” Gordon said Sunday. “If somebody is going to screw you, you’d like them to say it to your face, or at least on the radio. I would have been fine with that and understood. … But politics play out sometimes.”
On Tuesday team owner Jack Roush sid that no orders were given to Ford drivers about the strategy implemented for the race.
In the meantime Bayne says the two racers have worked everything out and they are on good terms.
Bayne ended up in 15th place with Kenseth three spots behind in 18th. It should be noted that Bayne received his only Sprint Cup victory of the season at Daytona when Jeff Gordon gave him the push needed to lead the pack.
Roush released the following statement on Tuesday:
“At Roush Fenway Racing we expect our individual drivers to make decisions that put themselves in the best position to win each and every race. 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. There are unique codes that all drivers establish and have to live by on the track. How they manage their code is up to our drivers as individuals. This weekend, 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.
“I’ve spoken with Trevor (Bayne) and understand that he was put in a situation requiring a split-second decision on the track and in his response to questions justifying his actions afterwards, where it was almost certain that not everyone was going to be satisfied. Trevor is extremely talented, but it is still very early in his career. Over time he will grow to understand that in such a high-paced, competitive and hostile environment it is unlikely that all of his decisions will make everyone happy. I’m confident in his decision making, his ability and actions on the track, and I’m excited as we continue to move forward with his development.”
Do you think Bayne made the right decision to stay loyal to the Ford brand or should he have been a man of his word and continued to partner with Jeff Gordon as he promised just one lap earlier?