“I drive fast-y call me Jeff Gordon” –Nelly
Jeff Gordon is so big that he’s got much more than “crossover appeal.” With endorsements and a public profile like Jeff Gordon, even the St. Louis hip-hop artist Nelly admires him. And that’s why NASCAR made sure to not open up another spot for Jeff Gordon in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but to actually ADD another slot to the chase; just for him.
Brian France made a power play that even the Chicago Blackhawks would admire today. A lot of my readers might not know France is, but he’s the most powerful man in all of auto racing. Here is a picture I took of the NASCAR CEO, who’s grandfather Brian France founded the sport, Wednesday with Al Gore, the man who won the 2000 Presidential Election’s popular vote, and General Wesley Clark, a finalist to be the Barack Obama’s first running mate.
France stepped in and added Jeff Gordon as the 13th driver for the Chase.
“I have the authority to do that. it is an UNPRECEDENTED and extraordinary thing,” Bill France said.
“It was unfair to the 24. More than anything it is the right thing to do. There were just too many things that went on Saturday night. We are going to have as much clarity as to where the line is. We drew one Monday with MWR,” France added.
The head honchos of NASCAR will address the media tomorrow after they address the teams. Speaking of racing teams…
Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports:
“I applaud NASCAR for taking the time for a full review. What occurred at Richmond was not of their making, and they’ve had to wrestle with some very difficult decisions throughout the week. I know everything done by NASCAR has been a sincere effort to be fair and ultimately do what’s best for our sport and our fans.
“We’re extremely proud to have all four cars in the Chase for the second consecutive season. Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team earned this spot, and we’re going to leave everything on the racetrack during these last 10 (races). The support this week from our fans and partners has been incredible, and I’m proud of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for the effort that’s gotten us here. The Chase is going to be exciting.”
Yes, that’s their standard boilerplate statement on Jeff Gordon and the situation.
Here’s NASCAR’s public statement:
“Based on all of our findings this week, we determined both Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing organizations would be placed on probation for the remainder of this season,” said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Additionally, based upon the totality of our findings, to be fair and equitable we decided that adding a 13th car to this year’s Chase is the appropriate action.
“Beginning with our decision Monday, which resulted in an unprecedented team penalty, and continuing with further examination of actions involving two other race teams, it is clear to us that attempts to manipulate the results impacted the Chase field.
“The integrity of our sport remains the cornerstone of NASCAR, and our actions this week speak to our commitment to ensure a level playing field for all competitors.”
Additionally, NASCAR will conduct a mandatory meeting with drivers, owners, crew chiefs and other team personnel tomorrow to address this issue moving forward.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan and 1620 The Zone, he also writes for Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and Facebook.Follow paulmbanks