Trevor Bayne explained what happened in the closing laps of Sunday's Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway when he made his weekly appearance on Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive" on Tuesday morning:
LISTEN TO BAYNE'S COMMENTS
Trevor, let’s cut to the chase, you have been the focal point of headlines and conversation since the checkered flag flew at Talladega and we need your help. Walk us through the end of the race when you committed to go with Jeff Gordon in the last couple of laps there and then all of a sudden bail out and go with Matt Kenseth, Walk us through the arrangement to go with Jeff Gordon and why the decision to leave him and go with Matt Kenseth.
Yes Sir. Well it starts early in the week when everybody’s arranging with who they’re going to work with and what they’re going to do when they get to Talladega. Every team out there has a plan when they get there, that’s why you see some teams in the back of the field and you see some teams leading and you see teams working together. With us being a singe car team and being the 9<sup>th</sup> man out we knew we could be put in a tough situation at Talladega, not having someone to work with and having to find someone when we got there. So Eddie Wood and Lynn and Donnie, we were kind of talking about it when we got there, we don’t want to work with anybody in the chase because we don’t want to get in the middle of it, we’re just going to stay out of the middle of everything and lay low, we have nothing to gain either way. So the whole race long I was working with Robby Gordon, because he’s not a chase driver, even though he’s a different manufacturer.
I had to work with somebody because I would have went a lap down if I rode around by myself. So we worked with Robby Gordon and ended up pushing him up to the front actually. It was pretty wild to see how fast our 21 Ford Motorcraft Quick Lane car was, it could go with anybody and just drive up to the front. At one point we were 12 seconds back and drove up to the lead, so it was pretty cool to see our car was that fast. And in our plan, all week long we talked about being the 9<sup>th</sup> man out, it was just, if a Ford needed help, if anybody needed help that was in our same kind of camp, then we’d help them. Just because, if that’s how it came down and somebody needed us to work with them that’s in the same camp, then we’d work with them, so before the race started I told Robby Gordon that, I was like, “hey man, I’ll work with ya, but if Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle or anybody needs a teammate, then I gotta go draft with em” He was like, “That’s awesome man, that’s cool, I’m good with it, I appreciate you working with me.”
So, when Allmendinger crashed I worked with Ambrose, I was really fast with him, drove up to the lead, car was really really good pushing, so uh, let me see here… where do I go from there… this is when the mayhem starts breaking loose. We’re coming through 1 and 2 and Marcos Ambrose gets in the crash with the 78, when he gets wrecked, we lost our drafting partner, we get to the restart and I’m behind Jeff Gordon. So, at this point, Matt Kenseth has David Ragan, Greg Biffle has Carl Edwards, Allmendinger and Ambrose are at the back, the 34 and 38 are somewhere else working together, so when I lined up behind Jeff Gordon I was like, man this is perfect. Everybody’s got partners, I don’t have to worry about a thing, we can go with Jeff here. I started talking on the radio, at the time we actually thought Casey Mears was going to line up in front of us, so Casey is on the radio and is like, hey man can you work with us, I was like yeah, I think we can do that if you line up in front of us and we’ll see how it shakes out, and then the lineup changed and they put Jeff Gordon in front of us, and that’s when we started talking to Jeff, he got on the radio when I was still talking to Casey and I was like, who’s this, and he said it’s Jeff Gordon man are you going to work with us or what? And I was like, yeah sure, this is going to be awesome, since I was five years old I’ve dreamed about pushing Jeff Gordon or racing with Jeff Gordon going for a win and trying to beat him, so, I’m like, pumped about it, I’m thinking, this is awesome, I’m going to work with Jeff Gordon and I’m going to push him to the end. So, I talked to him and I’m like , yeah we can work together, but obviously if a Ford needs help I have to go with them.
And I probably should have said that to him at the time, I think I took it for granted because we had 2 laps to go and everybody had a teammate, so I was just ready to go with Jeff and work with him. Then we took the green flag and the 6 car blew up. When the 6 car blew up, Matt Kenseth pulled up to our bumper and then there’s a Ford in need, which we had committed to all week, we said, If a ford needs us, we’re going to go help them. That’s just common sense that any team would do, its not us saying, don’t work with anybody else, its not a team saying, go make arrangements with a team and then go leave somebody, its not premeditated, its not like Jack Roush came on the radio and said, hey go tell Jeff you’ll work with him then leave him. You know, it was none of that, its just the fact that, all of a sudden with two laps to go there was a Ford on our bumper and he didn’t have a drafting partner and at that point, it’s a tough decision because I gave Ford my word all week long and now I have Jeff Gordon in front of me who you want to work with, who you just talked to about working with and then everything changes in the matter of a lap.
It was probably the hardest thing I had come up in my whole career to be between two drivers and you can’t keep all three cars together. I mean, for the last two days I’ve been trying to think about how I can keep all three cars attached and when I talked to Jeff Gordon about it, he kind of laughed and was like, man there’s nothing you could do, you know, I mean, Jeff and I are fine, talking about everything we’ve been through. He just said, hey man, my fans are going to take it hard on you, you know, you and I are good, you’re a good kid, I understand the situation you were put in. Honestly I believe that if it was a ten lap shootout, and we got five laps into it and our teammate blew up, we would have had time to say hey man, we gotta go and he’d have understood, just like when there’s one lap to go and you have to help your teammate, it’s the same thing it just happens a lot quicker and you don’t have time to talk about it and work through it. So, really really tough situation and I just hate how it turned out because, I would have loved nothing more than to go up there and try to win that race with Jeff Gordon.
We understand that you have a boss and a team and a manufacturer, and I understand the way you put it, the situation you were put in, Is that a tough situation, is that a fair situation Trevor to have drivers be put in on the race track in the middle of trying to the bottom line is, win the race?
Well, if you don’t have a plan going into a superspeedway race, you’re going to be in trouble. If you don’t have teams saying, hey, we’re going to work together and this is our plan then you might as well not go to the racetrack, that’s just a product of the racing we’re in right now at the superspeedway. If we don’t have that kind of racing, if it’s a big pack, then you don’t have to make those arrangements, but if you don’t then you’re left in the water dead. You gotta have some kind of plan, it is a very very tough situation, because you don’t want to be out there and have to help somebody and choose who you’re going to help or make deals with people or whatever it is. And uh, I care a lot about what people think, and that’s been the hardest part about this whole deal.
I think that’s what God’s really working on my heart in, He knows that, when I go on twitter and I see people sending hate mail or this or that, it goes straight to heart. That’s something that, through this process, I’ve learned to numb it down a little bit. When I was talking to Jeff Gordon yesterday he said, hey man, my first year was my hardest year that I’ve ever been through for that exact reason. People are going to say stuff, things are going to be said and you just gotta take some of it and you gotta throw some of it out. Just learn from it, and that’s what I’m doing here, You know, just, man, that’s some of the toughest stuff I’ve ever been through.
It looked like if you stayed with the 24, you guys were going to win the race, either Jeff or you would have won, it appears that that commitment to Ford ultimately cost you a chance at victory, are you ok with that?
It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had come up in my career to be between two drivers and can’t keep all three cars together. For the last two days I’ve tried to think about how I could keep three cars attached. When I talked to Jeff Gordon about it, he laughed about it. He’s like, “Man, there was nothing you could do there.
Jeff and I are fine, talking about everything that we’ve been through. He just said that, “Hey, fans are going to take it hard on you, but you and I are good, you’re a good kid, I understand the situation you were put in."
Honestly, I believe if it would have been a 10-lap shootout and we got five laps into it and one of our teammates blew up, then we would have had time to say, “Hey, man, we’ve got to go,’’ and he would have understood. Just like with one lap to go and somebody blows up and you’ve got to help your teammate. It’s the same thing, it just happens a lot quicker and there’s no time to talk about it and work through it. Really, really tough situation. I hate how it turned out. I would have loved nothing more than to try to win that race with Jeff Gordon.
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