This past Sunday, in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Carl Edwards twice looked for some help from teammate Greg Biffle to remove some paper from the grille of his No. 99 Ford.
He got that help neither time.
The first situation arose around Lap 70. At the time, the teammates were running sixth and seventh, respectively. Edwards asked his spotter to talk to Biffle's spotter and see if Biffle could drop back and let Edwards get close enough to his back bumper to attempt to get a piece of paper off of his grille.
Biffle did not do it.
After the race, he told reporters that he had never received word of Edwards' request.
The second time Edwards was looking for help came during the closing laps of the event. With approximately 40 laps to go, another piece of debris had lodged itself onto the grille of Edwards' car. He again asked for help from his teammate. This time, Biffle was relayed the message, but he declined to offer assistance, as he was the race leader by some 20 car lengths.
Edwards has since said that he completely understands Biffle's decision not to drop back and help him in that situation, as the race was nearing its conclusion and Biffle was contending for the win, which he would ultimately get.
It was the first time that Edwards needed some assistance and didn't receive it that had him confused and a little frustrated.
"I want us to be the best teammates we can be...My hope is he never heard the communication on Lap 70," he told David Newton of ESPN.com
Biffle reiterated that he never heard about Edwards' Lap 70 request during the race. He told Newton that he'd "help Carl absolutely any time I can. We go out of our way to help each other. It's a team sport."
The Roush Fenway Racing teammates are set to meet at Sonoma this coming Friday to further discuss the incidents, according to Newton.
In all likelihood, the two will clear the air after a brief discussion, and all will quickly be forgotten. But it does lead to an interesting question: How much responsibility do teammates have in helping each other during a race?
I completely understand the concept of working together all throughout the week and even at the start of a race weekend. Of course it makes sense to share as much information within an organization as possible to make each individual driver better. But once the race starts, shouldn't it be every driver for him or herself?
As soon as the green flag waves, there are 42 other drivers on the race track with one goal in mind: to win the race. So why, at any point, does it make sense to help someone who has that same mindset?
What if Biffle had helped Edwards in either instance at Michigan? Who knows how that could have affected the final outcome of the race? That could have been the difference between winning or second place for Biffle, and, ultimately, that could be the difference between making the Chase or missing it.
Obviously, teamwork and communication go a long way in helping a driver win races and championships. But at the end of a race, when the checkered flag is waving, if it came down to you and your teammate, wouldn't you rather be called winner as opposed to runner-up?
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