Title contenders rely on help from their teammates

FONTANA, Calif. --- Help is on the way for Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, and it will come from their Roush Fenway Racing teammates.

 

As Biffle and Edwards continue their run in the Chase for the Championship, the rest of the team, including drivers Matt Kenseth, David Ragan and Jamie McMurray, will have different priorities. All three will be asked to test new suspension ideas, as well as Ford's new engine to help their teammates in the playoffs.

Much like a baseball player sacrificing an at-bat to advance a runner with a bunt, racing has turned into a team sport. It's now common for teammates to pull over for easy passes. It's also a generally accepted strategy for some drivers to become little more than high-speed guinea pigs as teams desperately look for speed.

"We know everybody's got a teammate in this thing," Biffle said. "We hope that our teammates, when it comes down to it, will work with us some. Certainly a guy's not just going to pull over for no reason, so I don't think it's company orders, so to speak. But you know, we stand an opportunity for Matt and David and Jamie to do a little more stuff outside the box, a little more research with the race cars.

" If they can help us learn something and make us a little bit more competitive as they get ready for next year or to try and make the Chase again."

Juan Pablo Montoya is one of the few in NASCAR who doesn't see anything wrong with helping teammates -- but there are limits. He admitted there were unspoken rules in Formula One for the lead driver on each team to benefit from others.

"What's wrong with that? It's the same thing they're talking about in Formula One. There's always a line where I think a teammate can help but one thing is helping the other is hurting somebody trying to help. I think that's crossing the line," he said.

The issue of teammates was prevalent during the Camping World Truck Series race in September at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Points leader Ron Hornaday Jr. was running second, while his car owner, Kevin Harvick, was third in one of his part-time starts.

Harvick became enraged when Hornaday didn't let him pass.

"If you are going to have team work, you have got to have a two-way street," Harvick said.

Harvick wasn't trying to hurt Hornaday's position in the rankings. He merely was trying to beat Kyle Busch and win the race.

Hornaday, a three-time series champion, didn't back down. He wanted every possible point -- even at the expense of his boss.

Biffle said he didn't put up a fight to protect his position in a Nationwide Series race last year when Edwards was racing for a championship. But nobody is willing to throw away a victory, even for a teammate.

"I just know in the experience I've had at Hendrick Motorsports, regardless of the situation, it's not been discussed or even considered," Jimmie Johnson said.

"I'm not saying that teams aren't talking about it. I know we're not talking about it. But the other part to it is, and I guess this would weigh on my mind, is that I race against these guys every week. And what comes around goes around. You don't want to control fate like that in a sense and I just don't think I could have that on my conscience, you know, just to throw a race for that to happen. I couldn't."

But he'll take all the other help he can get.

Reach Don Coble at don.coble@morris.com.

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