Almost everyone involved admits it looked kind of odd. With a few laps to go in the Good Sam Club 500, Trevor Bayne looked like he was all lined up to draft with Jeff Gordon on a restart in the restrictor plate race on Sunday.
As the green flag was waved, though, Bayne moved over to run with fellow Ford driver Matt Kenseth. Gordon, who was in contention to win the race, was forced to drop back in the pack and finished 27th.
Bayne's move prompted accusations that Roush Fenway Racing had ordered Bayne, who usually races for RFR but was on loan to Wood Brothers at Talladega, to hang Gordon out to dry and work with another RFR Ford driver.
Roush denied any order came from RFR.
"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," Roush said in a statement. "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 asist, nor did I give similar directions or suggestion to any of the other Ford drivers.
"I've spoken with Trevor 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."