Immediately after the checkered flag in Richmond, the NASCAR fans were adamant about Jeff Gordon getting cheated out of the Chase.
Jeff Gordon almost got lost in the mudslide of controversy that has taken place since the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday evening, just six days ago. Since then, there has been a loud cry for justice and NASCAR executives came down hard on Michael Waltrip Racing, and they advanced Ryan Newman into the Chase field.
Many felt that justice had been served but many others thought that Gordon, through no fault of his own, was being treated like the odd-man out. He was said to be caught up in the ripple effect and couldn’t be rewarded/ But he world of social media and the media in general wouldn’t let it go, and NASCAR jumped back into the water, seeking to preserve the integrity of the sport.
At Richmond, the four-time Sprint Cup champion ended up eighth after leading 40 laps and missed the top-10 points by one marker. Instead of qualifying for the Chase, he was left outside; that is until today.
Friday the 13th turned out to be Gordon’s lucky day as NASCAR moved him into the Chase field after a follow-through investigation of actions between Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing where reportedly David Gilliland was asked to let Joey Logano pass him with favors to be given in return.
Unknown to fans until earlier today is that NASCAR has electronic copies of all communications between the teams, their drivers and others and for hours on end, staff has been pouring over the transmissions, to include radio and television reports, seeking conclusive data on the actions going on behind the scenes.
Said Gordon, “It’s been a roller coaster ride this week and an unusual set of circumstances (have taken place). 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 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.
“I wish all of this hadn’t happened, and that we could have raced for it on Saturday night but that wasn’t the case. Now, we are the 13th car and in, and we have to make the most of it.”
Gordon, Newman and Clint Bowyer all expressed their regret that Martin Truex Jr. was removed from the Chase field.
“We don’t know what the result of Saturday would have been without that spin (by Bowyer),” Gordon stated. “That was the only reason I am accepting even being in as No. 13. Under normal circumstances, I don’t think that would be right but under these circumstances, I feel we earned the right to be in.”
NASCAR chairman Brian France and NASCAR president Helton announced their decision on Gordon today, and they also indicated in a firm tone of advice they will meet with all drivers, owners and crew chiefs on Saturday, presumably to lay down the law to the competitors and letting them know who is in charge.
“I am excited about this meeting, even though I believe we are going to be reprimanded,” said Gordon. “But it all doesn’t come down on NASCAR as we are all fierce competitors, and I don’t think fierce competitors can be torn down by trying to win a race, a championship or a teammate. You work as a team.
“Yes, the integrity of the sport has put at question, and to see our integrity get questioned is very upsetting to me. We along with NASCAR have to solve this, and I am glad we are getting the opportunity to do this.”
Gordon is the consummate professional, and he’s not only looking forward to the upcoming tongue lashing from management but he’s also looking forward to the next 10 races.
“I am looking forward to racing this weekend in Chicago,” Gordon concluded.
Gordon adds class to the Chase field and NASCAR showed class with its actions, as it focuses on preserving the integrity of the sport. Today’s action was a win-win for all parties.