Capping a historic week with another unprecedented move, NASCAR on Friday added Jeff Gordon as the 13th driver in the Chase for the Cup in what is normally a 12-driver championship playoff.
NASCAR found that the cumulative effect of a series of questionable moves by other drivers and teams at Saturday night's race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway prevented Gordon from earning a Chase berth.
There were "too many things that altered the event and gave an unfair disadvantage to Jeff and his team," NASCAR Chairman Brian France told reporters at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., site of the first Sprint Cup Series race Sunday in the 10-race Chase.
"I have the authority to do that, we are going to do that," France said of adding Gordon, the four-time Cup champion who drives for Hendrick Motorsports.
"It is an unprecedented and extraordinary thing, but it's also an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances," France said. "We believe this is the right outcome to protect the integrity -- which is our No. 1 goal -- of NASACAR."
Gordon promptly gave thanks on Twitter, saying, "very appreciative of NASCAR consideration on this matter."
The Richmond race was the last event of the season to determine which drivers qualified for the title playoff.
NASCAR on Monday levied record penalties against Michael Waltrip Racing and its three drivers -- Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and Martin Truex Jr. -- after finding that the team tried to manipulate the race's outcome to ensure that Truex would make the Chase.
The penalties resulted in Truex being dropped from the Chase and replaced with Ryan Newman. Bowyer remained in the Chase, but Vickers did not qualify.
Then reports surfaced that the teams for Joey Logano (Penske Racing) and David Gilliland (Front Row Motorsports) allegedly might have conspired or reached some type of bargain to ensure Logano's Chase berth by having Gilliland letting Logano to pass in the race's closing stages. Both drivers race Fords.
France said NASCAR had not found conclusive evidence of that, but the sanctioning body did put Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports on probation for the rest of the season.
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