Dean Mozingo, a crew member with the No. 24 team, has been fined $10,000 and suspended from NASCAR through the completion of the next three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points races. He was found to be in violation of:
Kenny Francis, crew chief of the No. 5 team, and Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 24 team, have each been fined $50,000 and placed on NASCAR probation through the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points races. They were found to be in violation of:
“While the intensity and emotions are high as we continue through the final rounds of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the actions that we saw from several crew members Sunday following the race at Texas are unacceptable,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR senior vice president, competition and racing development. “We reviewed the content that was available to us of the post-race incident along pit road, and identified several crew members who crossed the line with their actions, specifically punching others.”
“We therefore have penalized four crew members as well as their crew chiefs, as they ultimately are responsible for members of their team per the NASCAR rule book,” Pemberton continued. “A NASCAR championship is at stake, but we can’t allow behavior that crosses the line to go unchecked, particularly when it puts others in harm’s way.”
Contact between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski, during the next to last green-white-checker restart resulted in a cut tire and a slight graze of the retaining wall by Gordon’s car. He would finish 29th while Keselowski finished third. Gordon’s car was strong all day in this race and he was going for the win in order to advance to the final round of the Chase for the Championship. Keselowski, in danger of being eliminated from Chase contention following a bad night at the Martinsville race, also needed a win to keep his title hopes alive. The final result saw an angry Gordon confront Keselowski on pit road after the race. At first, the confrontation was verbal until driver Kevin Harvick, who finished second, pushed Keselowski towards Gordon. That’s when things got physical.
After an atmosphere of somewhat calm had been restored, NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton spoke to the media and said NASCAR had no issue with the on track incident. “I think it was hard racing, and this is a contact sport. You look at what drivers are trying to do. We had a couple of shots at a green-white-checker finish and everybody was going for it. Nobody was leaving anything behind. We knew that the new Chase format was going to put a lot of pressure on people to perform, make aggressive moves and decisions out there on the race track. You could see the result of that after the race,” he said.
The fact that the three drivers, initially involved in the pit road confrontation, did not receive a penalty could be viewed as NASCAR felt their actions were under the guidelines of their “have at it boys-police yourselves” policy that was implemented a few years ago.
However, NASCAR officials have proved that they will quickly draw a line when it comes to throwing punches that could inflict injuries especially when innocent bystanders could be placed in danger.
“You shouldn’t punch somebody,” Pemberton said after the race adding “everybody gets together and when you’re holding on to each other and grabbing this, that and the other, that’s one thing. But when punches are landed, that’s a different scenario.”
With today’s penalty announcements, NASCAR sent two very clear messages. The first says you can shout, cuss and even grab or shove each other and come out of the situation basically okay with them. However, if someone’s emotions gets out of control to the point of throwing a punch it going to be very costly. The second message makes it clear that NASCAR will hold crew chiefs responsible for their personnel and a failure to keep them in line will also be very costly.