Gordon added to Sprint Cup championship chase

Sept. 13, 2013 at 7:53 PM
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JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 13 (UPI) -- NASCAR Chairman Brian France, calling recent events in his sport "unprecedented and extraordinary," added Jeff Gordon to the Sprint Cup title chase Friday.

Allegations of race fixing have rocked NASCAR since the running of last Saturday's controversial event at Richmond International Raceway, which determined the final standings for this year's Chase for the Championship.

An examination of communications between drivers and crew chiefs from late in that race gave the appearance that Clint Bowyer intentionally spun to bring out a caution and that two of the race teams were in collusion to allow Joey Logano to make a late pass that gave him the one point he needed to finish in front of Gordon in the standings and earn the final place in the 12-driver title chase.

In addition, another driver appeared to have been ordered to make an unnecessary pit stop so Martin Truex Jr. could move up one place and also make the chase field.

Earlier in the week NASCAR responded to the furor by penalizing Bowyer's team -- Michael Waltrip Racing -- and removing Truex from the chase. He was replaced by Ryan Newman, who was leading the Richmond race when Bowyer's spin brought out the caution flag.

Newman had a poor pit stop, slipped back in the pack and missed out on the chase until NASCAR gave him one of the 12 spots in the championship field.

That did nothing for Gordon, however, until he was named the 13th driver in the chase on Friday.

"We've decided that due to the totality of the events, we're going to add a 13th position to the field," France said. "Jeff Gordon will qualify for the championship this year.

"We believe in 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.

"It is 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 was the right outcome to protect the integrity, which is our number one goal of NASCAR."

France said Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing would be put on probation for the remainder of the year for "actions detrimental to stock car racing." That decision came after reviews of radio communication indicated Logano was allowed to pass David Gilliland with three laps to go. Logano, however, will get to keep his spot in the chase.

Logano wound up winning the pole Friday for the first of the 10 championship chase races that will be held Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.

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