Jeff Gordon was added to the Chase for the Sprint Cup on Friday after he came up one point shy of making it in during last Saturday’s race at Richmond International Raceway.
NASCAR made the decision to add Gordon to the Chase following allegations of race-fixing at Richmond.
ESPN reports that evidence emerged this week that suggested the Penske team struck a deal with Front Row Motorsports. The deal allowed Joey Logano, who was struggling in 23rd place, to pass FRM driver David Gilliland for 22nd.
The position change allowed Logano to come out one point ahead of Gordon and secure the final Chase berth. In response, NASCAR CEO Brian France and president Mike Helton placed Penske and Front Row on probation until the end of the season.
The pair also added Jeff Gordon to the Chase as the 13th driver, citing the extraordinary circumstances of the situation. France explained to reporters on Friday, “We believe that there were too many things that altered the event that gave an unfair disadvantage to Jeff and his team, who would have qualified.”
France went on to say that adding Gordon was “just the right thing to do.” Many fans were outraged by allegations of race-rigging at Richmond, which kept both Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon from making the Chase. Those allegations were directed at Michael Waltrip Racing for Clint Bowyer’s late-race spin and Brian Vickers’ unscheduled pit stop.
USA Today notes that Jeff Gordon found out he was in the Chase by watching the announcement on television. Afterward, Gordon told reporters, “I’m extremely happy for this. We’re proud to be in it. An incredible set of opportunities now lie on our shoulders to show we belong in the Chase.”
Helton also announced that NASCAR will meet with team owners, drivers, crew chiefs, and key team personnel on Saturday to review “the rules of racing and the ethical part of it.” After that, France will likely speak with the media again. Helton expects that the meeting could set a new course for how NASCAR officiates its races.
After learning he was added to the Chase, Jeff Gordon qualified sixth for Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway.