Following a comprehensive review of all available audio and video communications from last Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, along with interviews with team personnel, NASCAR announced Friday the following decision:
· Both the Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing organizations have been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31 for violating Section 12-1 (Actions detrimental to stock car racing).
· A 13th car—the No. 24—would be added to this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“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 Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Additionally, based upon the totality of our findings, to be fair and equitable we decided that adding a 13th car to this year’s Chase is the appropriate action.
“Beginning with our decision 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.”
Additionally, NASCAR will conduct a mandatory meeting with drivers, owners, crew chiefs and other team personnel tomorrow to address this issue moving forward.
Jeff Gordon (No. 24) finished one point behind Joey Logano (Penske Racing) for 10th place in the standings after the regular-season finale at Richmond—Logano would have owned the tiebreaker had they finished with the same number of points. The top 10 in the standings were guaranteed a berth in the postseason.
Shortly after the announcement, Gordon posted on Twitter: "Wow we just gained 1250 points! Very appreciative of @NASCAR consideration on this matter as well as fans overwhelming support."
He later added: "Think this is the first time I could actually hear the excitement in all of your tweets not just read them. Thank you all! #Team24"
Since the checkered flag fell at Richmond, Michael Waltrip Racing has been fined $300,000 and docked driver and owner points following a NASCAR investigation for attempting to manipulate the outcome of a race.
In addition to Gordon being added into the postseason, Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing are on probation until the end of the year, Helton announced. There was question over whether those two teams had improper communication during the Richmond race.
"More than anything, it’s just right thing to do,” France said in making the Gordon announcement. “There were too many things that went on Saturday night that provided a clear disadvantage."
Gordon's addition into the postseason means all four Hendrick Motorsports cars are in the running for the championship.
“I applaud NASCAR for taking the time for a full review," Rick Hendrick said in a press release. "What occurred at Richmond was not of their making, and they’ve had to wrestle with some very difficult decisions throughout the week. I know everything done by NASCAR has been a sincere effort to be fair and ultimately do what’s best for our sport and our fans.
“We’re extremely proud to have all four cars in the Chase for the second consecutive season. Jeff and the No. 24 team earned this spot, and we’re going to leave everything on the race track during these last 10 (races). The support this week from our fans and partners has been incredible, and I’m proud of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for the effort that’s gotten us here. The Chase is going to be exciting.”
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