NASCAR President Mike Helton and Chairman and CEO Brian France addressed the media on Friday to announce actions they were taking in regards to the situation between Joey Logano and David Gilliland in the closing laps last Saturday at Richmond.
I wanted to write about the Logano/Gilliland situation yesterday, as details emerged, but I was, frankly, tired of the Richmond issues, and ready to move on. Logano, according to reports, was given a position in the closing laps of the Federated Auto Parts 400 by David Gilliland, who slowed to let Logano by after radio communication between representatives of the two teams. Logano ended up finishing in the top 10 in the standings by a single point, as a result of both this and the MWR manipulation (read earlier posts).
NASCAR announced today that Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports are both on probation until December 31, the penalty for, as we hear so often, “actions detrimental to stock car racing.”
The big news here, however, came when France announced that NASCAR was allowing Jeff Gordon and his #24 Drive To End Hunger team to compete in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. This is an unprecedented decision, as no one has ever been allowed into the Chase after failing to mathematically qualify. France said this was (I’m paraphrasing) a cumulative decision by the sanctioning body after multiple organizations manipulated the Richmond outcome and, as a whole, worked against Gordon and greatly damaged his chances of qualifying. He mentioned keeping the integrity of the sport, which is the number one goal, and that this is the only way to assure Gordon a level playing field.
As a fan, it feels like Jeff Gordon keeps getting bad breaks on the track. Today he finally got a very, very good one, this time off the track.
NASCAR has made the right call here. Gordon was robbed on Saturday night. It wasn’t by just one organization, and it really wasn’t even that all the organizations in hot water now were specifically working against him on Saturday night. It just so happened that when multiple organizations manipulated the outcome of the race to help themselves, they collectively worked to the disadvantage of Gordon. It took six days from Saturday night to this afternoon, but the “integrity of the sport,” as France called it, is finally intact.
Of course, in a perfect world, Martin Truex Jr. would still be in because he as a driver and his #56 team did nothing wrong; it was the rest of Michael Waltrip Racing that has caused chaos in the NASCAR garage. The 50-point penalty that was handed down, however, was part of an overall organizational penalty, and although I disagree with some aspects of the penalty, sanctions for MWR were certainly necessary.
NASCAR will meet on Saturday with all drivers, crew chiefs, and teams to discuss the “rules of the road” and provide clarity moving forward for what is right and what is over the line (and where the line might fall).
It’s a meeting Jeff Gordon, Alan Gustafson, and Rick Hendrick will be more than happy to attend.
Note: NASCAR Press Conference Transcript link:
Another Note: Darrell Waltrip, as we know, loves numerology. He’s at it again with this interesting tweet: “In 2013 on September the 13th a 13th driver was added to the Chase, be easy to remember this day!”