JOLIET, Ill. – Jeff Gordon was added to the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship on Friday when NASCAR chairman Brian France used his power to make an unprecedented expansion to the field after two 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 in Richmond, Va., because of the actions of at least three organizations over the closing laps.
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 when 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.”
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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 since Clint Bowyer spun his car with seven laps remaining in Richmond.
Gordon goes into the Chase as the 13th seed, 15 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.
• Penske Racing swept the front row in qualifying, with Logano winning the pole hours after NASCAR placed his team on probation. Logano turned a lap at 189.414 mph around Chicagoland Speedway, and defending NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski, who is not in the Chase, was second.
Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw qualified in fourth for the GEICO 400, and Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., qualified in seventh.