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DATE News (chronologically)
10/24/11
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Trevor Bayne a Ford puppet  
Trevor Bayne is nothing more than a Ford puppet
Instead of possibly finishing 2nd to Jeff Gordon at Talladega Sunday, Trevor Bayne had to take orders from Ford and he ended up only finishing 15th.  Is this a sport, man against man, or is NASCAR racing a three-ring circus and the drivers just puppets?

Jeff Gordon was frustrated after Sunday afternoon's race at Alabama track because, as Gordon saw it, Trevor Bayne abandoned him abruptly in the final laps. Until then, Gordon's Chevrolet and Bayne's Ford appeared headed for good finishes. Instead, Bayne finished 15th and Gordon faded to 27th.

Bayne, a Ford puppet, worked well with Gordon early this year at Daytona International Speedway to open the season. But at Talladega, where two Ford drivers were title hopefuls, the Blue Oval reportedly told its racers to not help anyone except fellow Ford drivers. For the record, Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark denied that claim. Regardless, Gordon and Bayne were close enough for Gordon to ask Bayne over the radio if they could draft together to the finish.

"Everybody knew coming into this weekend that Ford had made it clear about what they were doing in helping out one another," Gordon said after the 188-lap, 500-mile race. "So I didn't expect Bayne to commit to me when we spoke on the radio before the final restart. I expected him to say, 'Man, I'm sorry, but I can't.' And I believed him when he said, 'Yeah, I'm pushing you, we're good.' But I think they had a different plan."

That became obvious in the final laps. Gordon and Bayne were aligned seventh and eighth for the final restart, poised to come to the front. Everything changed when Bayne left Gordon suddenly to hook up with Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth. Left alone, Gordon dropped like a rock all the way back to 27th.

"We talked on the radio and he agreed he would push me," Gordon said of the 20-year-old driver for Wood Brothers Racing. "I came on and said, 'Hey, what's your deal? You got anybody you're working with?' And Trevor said, 'No, man . . . I'm pushing you.' And I went off my radio and talked to my guys and went back to his radio and we talked through it and he said, 'Yep, yep, yep.'"

Bayne hurried to Gordon's car after the race and, according to Gordon, apologized for what happened.

"He said, 'Hey, it wasn't me, it wasn't me. That's what I'm being told to do,'" Gordon claimed. "But I'm surprised somebody didn't come back over the radio. It could have been handled better because 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.

"I would have been totally fine with that and understood, but politics sometimes play out. Trevor feels terrible about it. You work with anybody you can when you lose your partner; you're desperate to find somebody. I was going to go with Casey Mears, but Trevor lined up behind me. When he agreed to it, I thought, 'Hey, we can't go with a better person. He's got a fast car and we already have history of working well together.'

"I thought it was a no-brainer, but I probably should have known better. The unfortunate part is that we made a deal with somebody and they reneged on it after the green" (because Bayne is nothing more than a Ford puppet).

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