After Talladega, the ugly side of restrictor plate racing became apparent. Everybody wants to think that team orders do not exist in NASCAR, but they do. Everybody was reminded of that this weekend.
Going into the weekend Tony Stewart revealed that he lost his drafting partner, David Gilliland. Stewart said that Gilliland was told not to work with Stewart because Gilliland had to work with Ford drivers.
Apparently Jack Roush, majority owner of Roush Fenway Racing told all Ford drivers that Fords are to push Fords only. More specifically, Roush did not want any Fords pushing any championship contenders that drive for another manufacturer.
This has been going on forever at Talladega and Daytona. Teammates always seem to want to draft with teammates, and manufacturers seem to stick with their car-make as well. We see it every single time NASCAR goes to those two race tracks.
The big difference this time was how public it was. The Hendrick Motorsports cars only worked with their team cars, and same went for the Richard Childress Racing cars. The only time that wasn't the case was if something happened to the car they were working with.
And that was just the case with Jeff Gordon and Trevor Bayne on the final restart.
Gordon lost his drafting partner when Mark Martin got into an accident with Regan Smith among others. Gordon, a championship contender, was left by himself looking for a new partner to tandem draft with. Bayne was also partnerless. Gordon asked if Bayne would work with him and Bayne agreed.
But things changed once the green flag dropped. David Ragan had an issue that kept him from pushing Matt Kenseth, whom he had worked with all race long, to the finish. Kenseth decided he would just latch onto Bayne's rear bumper and push Bayne to the finish. Since Kenseth is a Ford driver and championship contender, Bayne dumped Gordon for Kenseth. Gordon dropped like a rock to a 27th place finish.
Bayne did the right thing. He knew he had to work with his teammate, so he did. The only issue was that he made a verbal agreement to work with Gordon and then bailed. It seems dishonorable, but teammates are supposed to stick with teammates. It's always been that way.
Team orders have always been there at the restrictor plate tracks. And until they get to be on the level of team orders in Formula One where a teammate will pull over and let a championship contending teammate win, team orders will not be a problem in NASCAR.
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Photo credit goes to Geoff Burke/Getty Images.