The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland; Ford Dictum Makes a Mockery of NASCAR and Racing by Jeff Meyer -- Friday October 28, 2011

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Voices From the Heartland; Ford Dictum Makes a Mockery of NASCAR and Racing

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Friday October 28, 2011


“Jack can be pretty blunt,” said David Ragan last Saturday speaking of Roush Fenway Racing owner, Jack Roush. Oh yeah? Well so can I (and usually am in this column!)

I hate Fords! Have most of my adult life. Why? Not because I’m some fanatic about Chevy, but because every Ford I have owned in my adult life has been nothing but a pain in the butt POS! As I’ve written before, I vowed long ago never to have a Ford, titled in my name, sitting in my driveway ever again. Well, maybe….but it better be from the early 70’s or older!

On the other hand, again as you probably know if you’ve read this column for any length of time, my favorite NASCAR drivers are Dale Jarrett and Carl Edwards, both of which have driven a Ford for nearly, if not all of their careers. Point being, when it comes to racing, I don’t blindly throw my loyalties out there, least of all for a manufacturer. I root for the man, not the car. At any rate, trust me when I say, had the recent allegations of Ford itself issuing orders that only cars of that ilk could play together during ANY NASCAR race, been made by ANY manufacturer, their name would be in the headline. I don’t play favorites when it comes to cars.

As soon as David Gilliland was seen separated from Tony Stewart on the track Friday, rumors started swirling that Ford was putting the clamps on their drivers’ drafting partners.

While the exact date that the alleged ‘orders’ were given remains a bit of a mystery, it was beginning to leak out as early as last Friday’s practice session.

“I’ve kind of heard the Ford guys are kind of being told they have to stay with Ford guys,” said Tony Stewart when he wasn’t tandem drafting with David Gilliland as they have in the past. Gilliland drives a Ford for Front Row Motorsports.

On Sunday it was reported by The Sporting News that “The dictum of Ford drivers helping only other Ford drivers in Sunday’s race came from Ford Racing brass and team owner Jack Roush during a meeting early in the week.”

“Yeah, we aren’t,” Gilliland said. “It’s such a tight points battle right now, and we’re going to try to help the Ford guys out all we can.”

After the race and perhaps, as they say, ‘from the mouths of babes’, young Trevor Bayne tweeted his displeasure. “I’m not happy about what this has become,” Bayne wrote. “It’s too premeditated. We should be able to go with whoever is around. I would have rather pulled over and finished last than tell [Gordon] I would work with him and then be strong armed into bailing.”

Immediately, Ford and Roush started the damage control statements that would make any politician proud.

“We don’t have orders per se,” said Jamie Allison, who oversees Ford’s motorsports program in North America. “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 realize that quote may be a bit long but I put it all in there solely because, after reading it, I realized that it sounded remarkably like something Brian France would say, albeit Allison said it marginally more eloquently. Look for Allison to one day be sitting behind a desk in NASCAR’s Ivory Tower!

Jack’s attempt at an explanation is almost as good.

“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.”

Oh, really!? Perhaps David Ragan and Trevor Bayne misunderstood. Perhaps in the future Jack needs to be more blunt!

At any rate, the whole point is this: Any time a person or – and perhaps ESPECIALLY a manufacturer – makes an attempt to alter the outcome of a race by issuing orders, orders that would result in consequences I’m sure (if not then they’re not really orders now are they?), if not followed by lesser than RFR teams, it makes a total mockery of the sanctioning body and of racing itself.

Were orders really given? I guess it is up to you to decide if you’re going to believe the drivers or the ‘politicians’ of the sport. I choose to believe the orders were in fact real.

As for bluntness, how’s this…If Brian France had any balls, he’d be on the phone directly and inform ALL the manufacturers that, going forward, there better not even be a hint of this type of thing. His daddy and granddaddy would have!

Stay off the wall (walls are pretty blunt!)

Jeff Meyer

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10/28/2011 07:28 AM

Jeff, are you kidding me? You are right in that Bill Senior and Bill Junior would have gone after Ford and Jack Roush with a vengence. However, they would never have gone after Chrysler (especially the Pettys) or G.M.! Heck, who do you think started kissing Chevrolet’s butt years ago? And where do you think the brainless one learned his immoral bias toward Government Motors? The Frances have always, and as long as Rick Hendrick has the brainless one in his pocket will always, show favouratism toward the bowtie boys.

A couple of days ago, someone blasted me because I posted a comment about Edwards being the most hated driver in NASCAR. Apparently, “hate” is something that only low-life types express! First, I am a Ford lover. I have never driven anything else. Two, I am a fan of Jack Roush. I have met the man on several occasions, and found him to be quite cordial. Third, I’m an Edwards and Kenseth fan, and don’t care which one wins the championship, as long as it’s one or the other. Your column today is nothing but hatred toward Ford and toward the Roush organisation! I only hope that the person who blasted me also blasts you!

P.S. Guess you’re really upset that NASCAR would like to speak to Mr. Knaus about his instructions to Jimmie to trash his car after Talladega. After all, given your mindset, and your love for the Bailout Company, I’m surprised you haven’t posted a column telling NASCAR to leave Chad and Jimmie alone!

10/28/2011 08:08 AM

Gotta love the standard backpedaling after something blows up in the persons’ face. Roush is a serious piece of crap. And a liar. Of course he’s going to save face because he’s gotta protect his empire, I get it. But to throw Bayne under the bus because of his youth and inexperience? Thats a new low for Cyclops-boy.

FWIW, I’d rather walk than drive a Ford.

Go Blue Duece!

10/28/2011 08:23 AM

I contend that NASCAR made a mockery of itself by creating the environment that would promote “team orders” of this kind by any manufacturer; Chevy or Ford or Dodge or Toyo. What is the difference in Bayne being told to leave the 24 for a teammate vs all of the strategizing that ALL the teams did prior to the race to hookup with teammates? They all did it. Nothing to see here. And, as long as this type of racing continues at Tall. and Daytona, there will continue to be nothing to see here. Ford didn’t do this to NASCAR, NASCAR did it to itself.

10/28/2011 09:31 AM

The problem, as I see it, is that this sport, and Talladega in particular,has devolved to such a point where you need a drafting partner. Sunday’s race was a joke-never mind the two car drafting-I can’t believe that cars were waiting for other cars on pit road, and that cars were basically riding around with no attempt to run up front. Talladega, and the sport in general, needs some major fixes.

Sue Rarick
10/28/2011 10:00 AM

I live a short drive from Talledega, I can afford the tickets and I enjoyed the heck out of actually driving there in the Spring…But I didn’t drive there. I didn’t buy a ticket and I didn’t even watch it on TV….Right now NASCAR feels like its adrift on a sea of poop and nobody on the ship cares…When they start to care again I will start to watch again. Till then I will read about the races and catch highlights… BTW: My boyfriend said watching my iRacing was more fun than the strategy races we’ve endured this year.

10/28/2011 11:19 AM

I wouldn’t buy either a Ford or a Chevy, because as Hag sang, they don’t last ten years like they should. That said, I am pulling for Kenseth and I have since he came into NASCAR. I dislike Earnhardt Jr and disliked his father too. So I have put up with Jr this and Jr that for a dozen years, nine of which Jr was outperformed by my driver. Still no credit for Kenseth after all these years and I think it is because he drives a Ford and not a Chevy. Articles such as this one need to be researched a little better before they get submitted. JEFF GORDON’S RACE IS NOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN MATT KENSETH’S RACE AND YOU THINK IT IS AND THAT IS YOUR REAL BEEF.

10/28/2011 12:18 PM

Got a really big laugh out of this article, Jeff! You must be drinkin’ the NASCAR-Kool-Aid, by the gallon, before you wrote this article.

I happened to listen to POS’s scanner, in the early part of the race and his mind-set (does he really have a brain or just a big mouth?) and even he was discussing with BLab, whether they needed to help-out another Toy-ride (the #11), with a hook-up!

Don’t buy into you BS Ford-bashin’. Try it on some newbies-to-NASCAR.

All of this is just a “product” of this idiot-style of racing……Camry of Tomorrow (COT), Plates, bumpers matching.

Give us a break!

Don Mei
10/28/2011 01:28 PM

That was me Rufus. I’ll say it again; hating someone you dont even know is ridiculous. I really dont care if you or Jeff or anyone else hates Ford or GM, or even the tree in your back yard. It’s not quite the same thing as hating a living, breathing individual. I would love to see Keslowski or Stewart take the title, though in all honesty I really dont care that much because the chase is such a farce. Well, back to work now; God I really do hate my coffeemaker!

10/28/2011 02:45 PM

Are you serious? Have you never watched a plate race before? You’ve never seen Chevys push or be pushed all day by other makes and then hang them out to go with another Chevy at the finish? ALL drivers of ALL makes do that when the opportunity presents itself. Trevor Bayne just happens to have a little more honesty and integrity than most of us. And Jack Roush and Jamie Allison just said out loud what has been known in the garage forever.

As for Fords being a POS – I owned a Chevy when I got married. It was fast but I couldn’t afford to have a wife and keep the Chevy running, too. So I’ve pretty much driven Fords since. Altogether, in my 73 years, I’ve owned 3 Chevys. I could write a long, long book about everything that broke on them.


10/28/2011 02:57 PM

Fuel mileage races, team orders, and lot of other cr*p cannot be swept under the rug anymore. The powers that be in nas$car no longer run their sport. They’re slaves to the networks and big racing teams. They keep on putting their heads in the sand and act like nothing’s wrong. Last week’s Talladega race was a total farce. Regarding the tandem racing, if I want to see square dancing, I’ll go watch it in a barn or wherever they hold it. If this king of racing continues at Daytona, I’ll be watching something else on tv. I never thought I’d be uttering these words. Even more teams will fade away next year. The self destruction will continue unless the heads of nas$car don’t wake up and do something constructive to their sport. Don’t hold your breath on it happening.

Don Mei
10/28/2011 03:17 PM

To call what’s being raced now a “Ford” or “dodge” or a whatever is an absurdity. these are spec cars with different grille and light decals. Not much difference in the motors either. Remember when Robbie Gordon switched from one brand to another? Some decal changes and engine swaps and instant other brand! Hell Brian would have them use a spec motor if it were up to him! We haven’t had anything remotely resembling stock sheet metal in what..maybe 15 years or so?? Maybe its time for VW or Porsche to get involved! LOL

Joe W.
10/28/2011 03:51 PM

Well this story sucks big time. I am with Rufus!! And I have owned Fords and Chevys and will NEVER own another Chevy. The Fords I have owned have been and are the best. I will not drive anything else again. The chevys, on the other hand, have been big time garbage. They start falling apart very soon after you buy them. And as for drafting at plate tracks goes, do you not remember the Daytona 500 when Hendrick went 1,2,3 by hanging Bill Elliot out to dry? I hope either Carl or Matt wins the championship. And I hope Ricky Stenhouse wins the Nationwide race. Funny how all these “republican Nascar dads” support bailed out GM or toyota. Real strange to me. Oh and the writer probably does think it’s O.K. to have illegal cars then wreck them after the race to make sure no one knows. Knaus is the biggest cheater there is. I think everyone is aware of that!!

10/28/2011 05:19 PM

Your opening statement says it all….go ahead, be a Bowtie lover, which you clearly are, and enjoy your car being in the shop more than on the road. That being said, the one point that hasnt’t been made here is that ALL the Hendrick cars and ALL the Childress cars were lined up ALL day with nothing but Chevrolets. So do you really think GM didn’t have the exact same mandate laid out to its teams?? Get your head out of the sand, it was no different at all. And do really think for one second that Jeff Gordon would have pushed Bayne to the win, had the roles been reversed?? Seriously??? There’s wasy too much at stake for the driver of one manufacturer, regardless of which one, to assist a rival make to the championship, at the expense of his own brand. That’s just good business sense, nothing more. If there were any orders, they need to continue, that’s what makes the whole Ford-Chevy thing fun.

Jeff Meyer FS staff
10/28/2011 05:31 PM

The point of the article, which many seem to have missed, is that NO manufacturer should be giving orders as to who can draft with who.

Obviously there are team orders…always have and always will be, but just because Ford and Roush are the ‘mothership’ of all the fords in nascar, doesnt make it right to issue orders to ALL ford drivers.

And everyone has their preferences when it comes to what to drive. I just said that the only reason I dislike ford is because all of them I’ve owned caused me nothing but heartache and money.

And again, as I said in the article, I’d have written the same damn thing if ANY make had given orders. Funny how people seem to gloss over that.

And for the record, I hope Carl wins the Cup.I dont give a rats ass what car he is driving. (My second pick would be Kevin Harvick!)

10/28/2011 11:50 PM

If nascrap didn’t ruin the racing on the plate tracks then we wouldn’t need to have this discussion. And like Thunder said, the blowtie boys had their team orders but nothing was said outside the teams about it. If Jr didn’t wreck then maybe Jeff wouldn’t had to whine about getting left alone. The 2x racing sucks and it’s nascrap’s fault.

Shayne Flaherty
10/29/2011 11:56 AM

This is nothing new, although lying seems to have become the new marketing tool. Why not fess up and say something like, “Hell yeah, we have orders not to help any other manufacturer but our own, PERIOD.”

10/29/2011 03:53 PM

Talledega is such a joke of a race that it shouldn’t even be in the Chase. Daytona isn’t much better. Any race where it takes more than one driver to win it isn’t a race.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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