Jeff Gordon has been added to the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup in an attempt to “protect the integrity of the sport” following the scenes at Richmond International Raceway.
Going in to practice at Chicagoland for the first of the Chase races, Gordon did not know if he was a championship contender or not. NASCAR officials were still considering penalties against Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports for possible violations at the previous round.
Radio transmissions from Richmond suggested that Front Row Motorsports’ David Gilliland had agreed to hand his position on track to Penske’s Joey Logano, allowing the latter to make the Chase.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France said that findings did not conclude that Gilliland actually went through with the action and that only discussions took place. Therefore no penalties have been handed out and Logano has been allowed to maintain his place in the Chase, with Gordon taking the 13th spot in the standings, starting on 2000 points.
“Based on all of our findings this week, we determined both Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing organizations would be placed on probation for the remainder of this season,” said France. “Additionally, based upon the totality of our findings, to be totally fair and equitable we decided that adding a 13th car to this year’s Chase is the appropriate action.
“Beginning with our decision on Monday, which resulted in an unprecedented team penalty, and continuing with further examination of actions involving two other race teams, it is clear to us that attempts to manipulate the results impacted the Chase field. The integrity of our sport remains the cornerstone of NASCAR, and our actions this week speak to our commitment to ensure a level playing field for all competitors.”
Earlier this week Michael Waltrip Racing was penalised for trying to manipulate the result at Richmond, receiving a $300,000 fine and all three drivers being docked 50 points, resulting in Martin Truex, Jr. being thrown out of the Chase.
NASCAR will hold a meeting with all drivers, owners, crew chiefs and other team personnel on Saturday to address the issue.