‘‘I’m not even sure what to say at this point. I’m kind of at a loss for words,’’ Truex said. ‘‘How they make a spot for somebody -- they kick me out to make a spot for somebody and then they don’t do the same for the other guys? It’s just unfair and nothing I can do about it.’’
Truex is out as punishment for his teammates’ working so hard to help him get in, and NASCAR was holding a mandatory team and driver meeting Saturday to clarify ‘‘the rules of the road’’ moving forward. France would not specify what won’t be tolerated going forward.
‘‘Obviously we drew a line with the penalties with Michael Waltrip Racing,’’ France said. ‘‘We’re going to make sure that we have the right rules going forward, so that the integrity of the competitive landscape of the events are not altered in a way or manipulated.’’
The entire mess began a mere seven laps from the finish Saturday night with Newman en route to a victory that would have given him the final spot in the Chase. MWR driver Clint Bowyer spun, bringing out a caution and setting in motion a chain of events that cost Newman the win and a Chase berth.
It also cost Gordon a Chase berth and put Truex and Logano into the final two spots.
It later became clear that Bowyer’s spin was deliberate -- although NASCAR has said it can’t prove that -- and that Bowyer and teammate Brian Vickers allowed Logano to gain late finishing positions to bump Gordon out of the Chase to aid Truex.
Among the penalties levied against MWR was a $300,000 fine and the indefinite suspension of general manager Ty Norris. Bowyer, Truex and Brian Vickers were docked 50 points each, and their crew chiefs were placed on probation through the end of the year.
Bowyer has denied the spin was deliberate. NASCAR could only prove one action -- radio communication between Norris and Vickers in which a confused Vickers was told to pit as the field went green with three laps to go.
Once NASCAR singled out that action, a Pandora’s box was opened and the apparent bargaining between Penske and Front Row became dicey.
And Gordon’s anger began to grow. Gordon said he felt that Bowyer also deserved to be punished for giving up late track position, just as Vickers did, and he called NASCAR’s penalties ‘‘half right.’’
And now he’s in the Chase with Bowyer -- but only after the second controversy.