Jeff Gordon admits he was steamed, really steamed, over the series of events that, in “a nutty kind of week,” knocked him and his team out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup and triggered a NASCAR investigation.
“When I found out later how they manipulated it, that was anger on a whole ‘nother level,” Gordon said (via USA Today) at a charity event in Charlotte. “It’s hard to describe and it’s disappointing. You realize people all want to do things for their teammates to help them, but you also know there are certain lines that have to be drawn with that.”
Gordon appeared likely to gain a playoff spot when, with seven laps to go, Clint Bowyer of Michael Waltrip Racing spun out, prompting a caution. Over the last laps, both Bowyer and Brian Vickers, a teammate, let Penske driver Joey Logano pass them by taking unneeded pit stops. Logano edged Gordon by one point for the 10th spot in the Sprint Cup points standings.
MWR was fined $300,000 by NASCAR on Monday night and its driver, Martin Truex Jr., was taken out of the Chase. Because Bowyer was unpunished, Gordon said he thought the penalty “was half-right.” Then, on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that NASCAR was listening to radio communications for more evidence that the outcome was manipulated.
“I haven’t heard the audio; I heard about it,” Gordon said (via Fox Sports). “I really don’t want to speculate on it. All I can say is I feel like our team deserves to be in this thing based on everything that went on Saturday night, based on our performance and I’d love to see us in it. And if we’re not, it brings out a whole other level of motivation for us to go race for the next 10 weeks.”
Even in a sport that prides itself for having an outlaw attitude, this is a bad result.
“This is the last thing,” Jimmie Johnson said today, “we want for our sport.”