NASCAR added Jeff Gordon to the Chase for the Sprint Cup on Friday, the latest unprecedented twist to this year's playoff after questionable actions by some of Gordon's rivals at the prior race.
It was the second time in five days that the sanctioning body juggled the Chase field because of events at Saturday's Sprint Cup Series race in Richmond, Va.
NASCAR on Monday so heavily penalized Martin Truex Jr. that he fell out of the 10-race playoff and was replaced with Ryan Newman.
Now Gordon, a four-time champion who drives the No. 24 Chevrolet and had narrowly missed qualifying for the Chase at Richmond, will be added as a 13th driver to the playoff, which normally has 12 drivers.
"I have the authority" to add Gordon and "we are going to do that," NASCAR Chairman Brian France told reporters at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., site of the first Chase race Sunday.
"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 NASCAR.
"There were just too many things that went on Saturday night that gave a clear disadvantage — and we deemed unfair — to the 24," France said.
Gordon issued thanks on Twitter, saying, "Very appreciative of @NASCAR consideration on this matter...."
The race at Richmond International Raceway was the last regular-season event to determine which drivers qualified for the Chase.
NASCAR on Monday levied record penalties against Michael Waltrip Racing and its three drivers — Truex, Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers — after ruling that the team used late pit stops and other actions to manipulate the race's outcome and try to ensure that Truex made the Chase.
The penalties resulted in Truex being dropped from the Chase and replaced with Newman. Bowyer remained in the Chase despite the penalties, and Vickers did not qualify.
Then reports surfaced that the teams for Joey Logano (Penske Racing) and David Gilliland (Front Row Motorsports) might have conspired to ensure Logano's Chase berth by having Gilliland let Logano pass him in the race's closing stages. Both drivers race Fords.
France said NASCAR could not "conclusively say there was a quid pro quo or altering of the event" by those teams, but NASCAR did put Penske and Front Row on probation for the rest of the season.
Logano, 23, then went out and won the pole for Sunday's race with a lap of 189.414 mph around the 1.5-mile Chicagoland oval.
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