JOLIET, Ill. – Jeff Gordon was added to the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship Friday when the NASCAR chairman, Brian France, used his power to make an unprecedented expansion to the field after two separate investigations into radio chatter revealed numerous instances of race manipulation.
France determined Gordon did not have a fair chance to race his way into the 12-driver field last Saturday night at Richmond because of the actions of at least three organizations over the closing laps at Richmond.
The four-time NASCAR champion was bumped from eligibility by Joey Logano, who unknowingly received assistance from two Michael Waltrip Racing drivers trying to aid their teammate. Logano also picked up another track position when David Gilliland apparently moved aside while Gilliland’s team tried to bargain with Penske Racing over the radio.
“Too many things altered the event and gave an unfair disadvantage to Jeff and his team,” France said. “More than anything it’s just the right thing to do. There were just too many things that went on Saturday night.”
It was a stunning conclusion to a surreal week for NASCAR, which should have been celebrating Sunday’s start of the Chase at Chicagoland Speedway.
Instead the sanctioning body has been scrambling to uncover who did what and why at Richmond as 10 drivers jockeyed for the five available spots in the Chase.
PENSKE RACING swept the front row in qualifying at Chicagoland Speedway for the first race of the Chase, with Joey Logano winning the pole.
Logano turned a lap at 189.414 mph to bump teammate Brad Keselowski. Juan Pablo Montoya qualified third, and was followed by Kasey Kahne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.