Biffle, Edwards & The Complexities of “Teamwork” In Racing

by Jim on June 18, 2013 · 3 comments

By now you’ve heard Carl Edwards was miffed at teammate GregBiffle wins at MIS Biffle for not checking up or in some way drifting back to Edwards to help him clean some debris off his grille. Instead, Biffle copped the “Sorry Bud, I’ve got a race to win and helping you is going to cost me” defense, and focused on the task at hand, namely the hot pursuit of Jimmie Johnson to take the checkered flag at Michigan.

After this race, Jack Roush- the team owner for which Edwards and Biffle race- stepped in. Team orders? Roush says they don’t exist. Basically, it’s a matter of both drivers owe to their crew, the organization and their sponsors to go get the “W.” If a teammate can help? Great, go for it; but don’t do it and cost yourself a shot at doing what you get paid well to do.

I couldn’t help but think about the guys down at the local dirt track. You’d NEVER hear of such an argument. Team? What team? You put in the time, the practice and the resources into trying to win a race. Team orders? This ain’t Formula One, baby. For that, this fan is grateful.

That was the thing about tandem racing at Talladega that drove this fan crazy. You are going to push somebody else to a win? That’s racing? You know the answer to that. I remember back in 2010, Jimmie Johnson asked his teammate (at that time) Mark Martin if he could pass for the lead to get some bonus points at Chicagoland. Martin reluctantly acquiesced. To his credit, Martin did give a reply to the effect of “Really?” If it were me, I would have said, come and race for your bonus points, I’m not giving you jack!

Don’t misunderstand me, I like Carl Edwards. I understand the frustration that comes with running well, and watching your fortunes go up in steam because some piece of trash is keeping air off of my motor and causing temperatures to rise. If I’m him, I’m hoping for some way, any kind of way to alleviate the problem; but to get mad at my teammate because he won’t lay back? I’ve got to call a foul there.

I’d like to think that’s just a little post race frustration talking, and that upon further reflection, I’d cut Biffle a little slack. Johnson was coming fast, and if things play a little differently, it’s not hard to imagine the 48 not using up so much tire to catch the 16, he succeeds and cruises off to victory lane. Under those circumstances, nobody from Roush wins.

Teamwork is about sharing information, pooling resources where reasonable, and yes, offering a little on track help like debris removal- provided it doesn’t potentially cost me a win. At the emd of the day, racing is still fundamentally an individual sport, and hopeful after about 24-48 hours of cool down time, there comes clarity.

If the roles had been reversed, do you think Edwards would have done differently? Me neither.

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1 Brian Fitzpatrick June 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I know I sure wouldn’t have slowed down either, I’ve seen drivers do that in the past and then when the guy is suppose to let you get back by after you let him lead a lap to get the bonus point, instead he takes off and leaves you in the dust…I actually remember it happening to Mark Martin when he drove for Roush and he let Matt by and Matt never let Mark get back by and it cost Mark the Race.
Heck when I use to race dirt bikes/street bikes and go karts, I had teammates at different times and I NEVER just let one “get by” so they could get an extra point, heck I was racing them for positions in the season ending points and money !!

Carl is probably over it by now…

2 Jim June 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm

@Brian. EXACTLY. Like the old Chiefs Coach Herm Edwards used to say in the Coors Light commercials “You play. To win. The game.” Further evidence? The Cat In The HAt’s reaction. Do you get the feeling there’s a little bit of team orders over HMS? Sometimes I wonder over there. If my boss told me to roll for a teammate, I’d tell him I’m with the wrong team and walk. This ain’t baseball.

3 Brian Fitzpatrick June 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Yeah I’ve been wondering about the Hendrick deal…some races I’ve seen a couple of the boys, move up the track to let JJ bye, or to let Jr. by….Jeffy’s actually let JJ by before to get the bonus point and JJ didn’t let him back by and went on to win the Race…

I’m still bummed out about what happened to my boy Kahne, fastest car on the track, leading by over 3.5 seconds…and then poof !!… flat tire and into the wall and end of the day….this makes 2 weeks in a row (with last weeks tranny problem) that Kasey’s had major problems, sure taken a hit in the points too.

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