Geoff’s Journal: Teammates and Daytona
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images
Jeff Gordon leads Danica Patrick and the rest of the field during the 2013 Daytona 500.
My first teammate was Tim Richmond, and we worked well on the racetrack together. We would draft and help each other as much as we could.
We were on the front row a lot during the mid-1980s. We used to be called “The Front Row Gang.”
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There were times where I could have wreck him for wins, but that’s cheap. There was a time at Pocono Raceway where we came off of turn three on the final lap side-by-side, battling for the win. I could have slid up and put him in the wall, but racing clean was always a priority. I wouldn’t have done it, even if it wasn’t my teammate.
You can’t win a race on the first lap, but you could absolutely lose it on the first lap. Racing in Winston Cup took patience and clean racing.
Now I had teammates (I won’t mention names) who you’d signal and motion to to pull out of line to draft, and they wouldn’t. They’d go past you. I’ve had some teammates who weren’t as trustworthy, but it’s difficult racing with a teammate.
I can call my two brothers teammates, and we worked together, but we raced hard against one another.
When we went to Daytona and Talladega, working with your teammates seemed to be the most beneficial. Places like Pocono and Michigan would also be places to draft together. All of those tracks presented the best opportunities to work with each other.
But some places, like Martinsville, I was likely to let my teammate in line if he was “hung out to dry”, because places like that are hard to pass. If you could give your teammate a break, they would likely repay the favor.
Teammates Kasey Kahne (4) and Brian Vickers work together alongside teammates Juan Montoya (42) and Jamie McMurray at Talladega Superspeedway in 2011.
When we raced at the superspeedways, it was vital to have a teammate to work in the draft with. I always wanted to help my teammates if all possible.
There’s times when you can’t help, though. Sometimes, you’d be working with cars in one line with your teammate working with another group of cars to your outside or inside. There’s nothing you can do about that. At the end of the day, it’s a race, and you have your own team and your own sponsors whom you have to perform well for. You can’t let everyone go by.
What to expect this weekend
The first part of the race this Sunday night will be calm in the beginning. Drivers will be feeling out their cars; that is, get a feel for handling, tire pressures, what lines to run, who to draft and work with.
Drivers will run conservative the first three quarters of the race, because it doesn’t really matter where you’re running.
The closing laps will have all of the above thrown out the window. As the laps wind down, we will have more and more action, and you can count on The Big One to occur at least once. These cars are running so close together.
With some drivers locked into a Chase spot and others seeing this race as a possible opportunity to make it in to NASCAR’s playoffs, varying strategy will be used. Your drivers locked into the Chase will likely take more chances to try for the victory since they know they will be competing in the post-season.
There’s no question this race presents the opportunity for a driver whose teammate isn’t in the Chase to possibly lock in. It is possible we could see one of the Stewart-Hass Racing drivers that have won a race this season (Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch) to help Tony Stewart or Danica Patrick.
The same goes for a powerhouse organization, like Hendrick Motorsports, help a satellite team like HScott Motorsports driver try and make the Chase Sunday night.
The bottom line is that varying strategy will be used Sunday night, and every team and driver will have different agendas.