Prior to Sunday’s race at Talladega NASCAR fans were alerted that Ford Motor Company did not want any of their drivers helping Chase drivers who drove for other manufacturers. The first story that made news was that David Gilliland and Tony Stewart would not team up due to this directive.
Gilliland spent the day drafting with Travis Kvapil while Stewart worked with Ryan Newman. When Newman got damaged, Stewart found help from Joey Logano. The story wasn’t much since Ford’s championship contenders Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards had spent previous restrictor plate races working with teammates Greg Biffle and David Ragan.
Then the final restart happened at Talladega and Trevor Bayne was to help Jeff Gordon. It didn’t happen and after the race Bayne took to twitter saying he was strong armed into the move to help Kenseth.
Kenseth has said he has not communicated with Bayne in weeks. David Ragan has said he was unable to help Kenseth because he was blowing up on the final restart.
Many fans views and assumptions are based on the orders Ford had given their drivers earlier in the week. But what if there were no orders from Ford?
Dustin Long spoke to the head of Ford’s North American motorsports program Jamie Allison and the comments from Allison were interesting to say the least.
“We don’t have orders per se. That’s how we work with these teams. These are independent teams that choose an affiliate with us as a manufacturer. We have a lot of respect and mutual agreements. We discuss many strategies. We don’t mandate. We don’t issue orders. I can tell you at the start of the Chase, we reached out to all the Ford teams, I personally did, along with my team and basically said, “Hey, thank you for affiliating with Ford Motor Company. We’re very proud of everybody. Hey, these are special times for us. If an opportunity presents itself where you can help a Ford teammate, just please be aware and try to help out.
“It was just an outreach, a consideration, just be aware that we’re in the Chase and we’re all part of the big Ford family. No orders. None of what you have been reading around this big plan or big orders. It’s none of that. I can tell you guys, it’s been a very, very tough and long and hard-fought season. It’s been on merit. We’ve earned all the wins. I wish we could count the almost-wins. It’s not just in Cup. You look at Nationwide. We have a strong, strong lead with Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.). We’ve got the manufacturer’s championship that we’re contending with there.” (Virginia Pilot)
Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway, said that no orders were given to any of it’s drivers on who to help or not help.
Orders or not from Ford it’s not like others in the garage were not having the same idea. Richard Childress was asked following the race if he would have allowed his cars to help a Ford.
Childress didn’t need to answer, Clint Bowyer did it for him. “He wouldn’t have opted for that option.” (Scene Daily)
The veteran car owner did get a chance to add his comments saying that “We were going to help Chevy try to win. I’ve been Chevy all my life. We’ve been GM for 40 some years, I think 45 years now. It’s kind of hard to change an old dog.”
Wild and confusing indeed. One thing is for certain as long as NASCAR races at Daytona and Talladega there will be these concerns and ideas going forward. Even if they aren’t official orders or even spoken ones.