“Due to the totality of the events that were outside of Jeff Gordon’s issues, we’re going to add a 13th position to the field and Jeff Gordon will qualify for the championship this year,” said NASCAR Chairman Brian France during a late afternoon press conference. “We believe that looking at all of it that there were too many things that altered the event and gave an unfair disadvantage to Jeff and his team who would have qualified.”
“I think more than anything, it’s just the right thing to do, more than anything. You know, as I said, there were just too many things that went on Saturday night that gave a clear disadvantage and we deemed unfair to the 24 that we needed to address that,” France continued during the press conference.
“I have the authority to do that, we are going to do that. It’s an unprecedented and extraordinary thing, but it’s also an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances that unfolded in multiple different ways on Saturday night. We believe this is the right outcome to protect the integrity which is our number one goal of NASCAR.”
Last Saturday night, Gordon was in seventh when Michael Waltrip Racing driver Clint Bowyer spun to bring out the caution with seven laps remaining in the race. Gordon had the position and the points to qualify for the top10 in the standings at the time of caution.
After reviewing the radio communications between the MWR drivers and crew chiefs, NASCAR reacted by penalizing all three MWR cars with a 50 point deduction of both driver and owner points in an endeavor to manage the outcome of the race to their advantage. NASCAR President Mike Helton said, ‘There’s not conclusive evidence that the #15 spin was intentional.’ Regardless the punishment left Bowyer’s teammate, fellow MWR driver Martin Truex Jr. outside of the Chase field as the penalty was to be deducted to the points after the race, but before the 12 Chase drivers were reseeded. Truex Jr. fell to 17th in the standings and lost his wild card slot to Ryan Newman, by virtue of the one victory during regular season.
With Newman vindicated and received a Chase berth, Gordon remained left outside looking in although the outcome had been impacted, something NASCAR stated it could not alter as a ‘ripple effect’ of the other activities.
Newman moved up and into the Chase, but Gordon was still left outside of it although his outcome had also been impacted — something NASCAR stated it could not alter as a “ripple effect” of the other activities.
Gordon remained 13th in the standings after all three MWR drivers, Bowyer, Truex Jr., and Brian Vickers, were docked 50 points Monday. Gordon has qualified for 9 of the 10 Championship bouts since the Chase was initiated
NASCAR went on to issue statements Wednesday and Thursday indicating it was looking into the radio chatter and would have no further comment until the facts were cemented.
Later Wednesday, Gordon said he felt he deserved to be in the championship determining field.
“I haven’t heard the audio, I heard about it,” Gordon said while at a charity event. “All I can say is I really feel like we deserve to be in it based on everything that happened Saturday night.”