Ford claims its drivers are not puppets

UPDATE Statement from Jack Roush, co-owner Roush Fenway Racing regarding Sunday’s Sprint Cup Race at Talladega:

“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."

10/25/11 Jamie Allison, who oversees Ford’s motorsports program in North America, was on Sirius Satellite Radio’s “Tradin Paint’’ show on Monday afternoon and discussed the issue of if Ford ordered its teams not to work with any other manufacturers at Talladega this past weekend in light of Trevor Bayne leaving Jeff Gordon late in that race and Tony Stewart saying he could not work with David Gilliland because of orders.

Here’s what Allison said to the question of if he or Ford ordered its teams not to work with anyone else:

“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.

“It’s a strong, strong year. It’s all because of good preparation, good teamwork and a lot of great teams. We just are reaching out and helping the fellow teammates.’’

Steve Newmark, President of Roush Fenway Racing, told that “No one at Roush gave a specific instruction to Trevor about what he had to do in that situation. Everyone in the sport expects teammates to assist each other but in that situation it’s a free-for-all.’’

After the race, Bayne went and talked to Gordon about what happened at the end and after they had agreed to work together and then how Bayne went with teammate Matt Kenseth.

Bayne wrote on Twitter after the race about his frustrations with not being able to choose his drafting partner and stated in a tweet _ since removed _ that “I would have rather pulled over and finished last than tell (Gordon) I would work with him and then be strong-armed into bailing.’’

Leave a Reply