NASCAR Adds Gordon to Chase Field

Jeff Gordon

"It’s been a roller coaster ride this week and an unusual set of circumstances. I’ve never been a part of anything like this before. But for my team and my fans that that have been overwhelming supportive this week, for the tough decisions that NASCAR has to make, and for Drive to End Hunger, I’m extremely happy about this." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Press Conference Audio | Chase Seedings

JOLIET, Ill. - NASCAR has added Jeff Gordon as a 13th driver to this year's Chase field in the wake of this week's points manipulation penalties following the race at Richmond International Raceway.

Gordon will become the 13th seed in this year's Chase field after NASCAR completed its review of video, audio, and timing and scoring information from the closing laps of the Federated Auto Parts 400.

"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, and I have the authority to do that," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Friday at Chicagoland Speedway.  "It's an unprecedented and extraordinary thing, but it's also an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances that unfolded in multiple ways on Saturday night.  We believe this was the right outcome to protect the integrity, which is our No. 1 goal of NASCAR."

In the 10 year history of the Chase, Gordon has now only missed the playoffs once, in 2005.

"It’s been a roller coaster ride this week and an unusual set of circumstances," Gordon said. "I’ve never been a part of anything like this before. But for my team and my fans that that have been overwhelming supportive this week, for the tough decisions that NASCAR has to make, and for Drive to End Hunger, I’m extremely happy about this. We’re proud to be in it, and now an incredible set of opportunities lie on our shoulders to go out there and show that we belong in this Chase.”

With Gordon being added, that will give Hendrick Motorsports all four of its cars in the Chase for the second consecutive season.

"I applaud NASCAR for taking the time for a full review," said team owner Rick Hendrick.  "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."

NASCAR also announced that Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing have been placed on probation for the rest of the year, for "actions detrimental."  The penalty is for deal making the two engaged in over the radios during the Richmond race to help Joey Logano make the Chase.  (Read More)

"The idea of a bargain ... that is completely off-limits, in our view," France said.  "But that bargain never - we don't believe that bargain ever happened, and we don't believe anything happened other than the discussions about it.  That's why (with) the probation, we're sending - we think - an appropriate message.

"We did not conclusively determine that Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports actually did anything on the track that we can say there was a quid-pro-quo, or altering of the event."

Penske issued the following statement on the decision by NASCAR:

"We appreciate the time and effort that NASCAR took to evaluate the circumstances while determining no deal occurred between the No. 38 and No. 22 teams. Penske Racing accepts NASCAR's decision and is now focused on a strong start to the Chase with Joey Logano and the No. 22 team."

On Monday night, NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing for its actions late in that race to help Martin Truex Jr. make the Chase.  NASCAR’s penalties, which included a 50-point penalty for each of the three MWR teams, caused Truex to fall out of the Chase.  Ryan Newman replaced him.  (Read More)

"Well, my team deserves to be in this Chase as much as any of those teams," Truex Jr. said Friday.  "If they're going to start putting people back in, they ought to consider us, too."

After Bowyer spun - which NASCAR President Mike Helton said officials could not conclusively determine was intentional - he then lost two laps, allowing Logano to pass him.  Michael Waltrip Racing needed Logano to clinch a top-10 Chase spot so Truex could claim the final Wild Card.

NASCAR said the key evidence against Michael Waltrip Racing was a radio conversation between spotter Ty Norris and Brian Vickers.  Norris ordered Vickers to pit in the final laps of the race.  Vickers was confused by the order and Norris told Vickers, "You’ve got to pit this time.  We need that one point."

By pitting, Vickers gave up his spot to Logano, allowing the Penske driver to collect another point.

"This week has been kind of surreal - again, going from Saturday night feeling like we really accomplished something to getting it taken away from us," Truex said.  "It's been a tough week, but I just have to thank my team and everybody for standing behind me.  We're going to come through this just fine."

In addition to today's annoucement, NASCAR will hold a mandatory meeting with drivers, owners and crew chiefs tomorrow to address this week's issues.

"We're going to have as much clarity to where the line is, and obviously we drew a line Monday night with the penalties with Michael Waltrip Racing," France said. "So obviously what we're going to do is we're going to protect, no matter what it takes, the integrity of the sport will never be in question, and that's what we're going to make sure, that we have the right rules going forward that are clear so that the integrity of the competitive landscape of the events are not altered in a way or manipulated. And that will be what we will be addressing."

Updated: 7 p.m. ET.

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