I’m sure everyone’s heard the saying that “Life’s not fair,” or at least some variation of it. That’s probably how four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon’s feeling about now. Actually, he’s probably felt that way since the conclusion of Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, but the sentiment may be even stronger since NASCAR came down hard on Michael Waltrip Racing Monday night, replacing MWR driver Martin Truex Jr. in the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup lineup with Ryan Newman of Stewart-Haas Racing.
After studying video, audo, etc., from Saturday night’s race at Richmond, NASCAR came to the conclusion that MWR wrongfully manipulated the results of the race to get Truex into the Chase, or NASCAR’s postseason to determine its yearly champion.
Michael Waltrip Racing driver Clint Bowyer spun, seemingly on purpose, late in the race, and Brian Vickers, another MWR driver, slowed on the track and then headed down pit road under green-flag conditions for no other reason that to help Penske Racing driver Joey Logano gain a position on the race track to help Logano remain in the top-10 in points. Keeping Logano in the top-10 meant the second and final wildcard entry into the Chase would go to Truex.
Truex and Ryan Newman wound up tied in points and race wins after Richmond, but a tie breaker put Truex into the Chase ahead of Newman. A points penalty from NASCAR on Monday evening, though, put Truex behind Newman, bumping Newman up into the Chase.
So what does all of this have to do with Jeff Gordon? It’s pretty simple. Logano ended the race in the top-10 in points, but just one point ahead of Gordon in 11th. If Logano had finished one position lower (minus the Vickers snafu), the two drivers would have been tied for 10th. Under that scenario, Logano would still get the spot by tie-breaker (wins — Logano’s 1 to Gordon’s 0), but then add in that Bowyer spin and Logano could have been one more position back in the running order. That additonal spot would have put Gordon one point inside the top-10 and Logano one point out. That would have put Logano in a wild card spot, with Truex completely out. Also, Gordon would be in.
Long story short, Newman may have been temporarily screwed by MWR, but that injustice was remedied by NASCAR a couple days later. Gordon’s possible screw-over, though, looks like it’s going to be more permanent. NASCAR’s penalties to Michael Waltrip Racing didn’t do a thing for him. Guess it really is true; life really isn’t fair, especially for Gordon in this case.
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