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Gordon: Bayne denied chance to win at Talladega

October 28, 2011, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Believes they might have challenged eventual winner Bowyer near end of race

Trevor Bayne's separation from Jeff Gordon on the final restart Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway not only left the four-time champion without a drafting partner at the end of the race. It also cost Bayne a chance to win the event, Gordon believes.

Bayne and Gordon struck a deal to draft together under the final caution, but the reigning Daytona 500 champion ultimately left Gordon to hook up with Roush Fenway driver Matt Kenseth under pressure from manufacturer Ford, which wanted its competitors to work together. Gordon faded to 27th, while Bayne managed a 15th-place result. Had he and Bayne been left alone to draft together, Gordon believes Ford would have benefitted from a better finish by the No. 21 car -- maybe even a race victory.

"If he had stayed in behind me, I think we could have battled those two guys up there for the lead."

--JEFF GORDON

"Here's the way I look at it -- it's OK for them to talk about it, for any of us. I unfortunately think it took away an opportunity for Trevor Bayne to win that race by doing that," Gordon said Friday at Martinsville Speedway.

Kenseth had been left without a drafting partner after fellow Roush driver David Ragan suffered an engine failure. Bayne's Wood Brothers car is a Ford built by the Roush team, which didn't want Kenseth stranded without help given his high standing in the championship race. Kenseth comes to Martinsville second in points, 14 behind teammate Carl Edwards.

As it turned out, no Fords cracked the top 10 at Talladega. Had he and Bayne been allowed to draft together, Gordon believes they might have challenged eventual winner Clint Bowyer, who drafted with teammate Jeff Burton before passing him off the final corner.

"From a Ford standpoint, if he'd have pushed me all the way, we were going. I mean, a lot of people said we were seventh. No, we were third when he pulled out. If he had stayed in behind me, I think we could have battled those two guys up there for the lead. And then he could have dumped me coming to the line like Clint Bowyer did, and finished ahead of me, and got possibly a win or a very good finish for that team," Gordon said.

"So I think this whole manufacturer thing, they've got to be careful. All of us have to be careful of saying, we cannot work with them, because you might take away the possibility of you winning the race for your manufacturer by being too strict with those guidelines. That's just the way I feel about it. If I feel like on the last lap restart I can push a Toyota to get to the front and then leave him out coming to the line, I think that's a win for me and my manufacturer, and I feel like I used them to get me there. I think that's even an added bonus."

Watch all the highlights from Talladega: