Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'They Had to Do What They Did'; Team Owner Hendrick Says NASCAR Had No Choice but to Put Gordon in Chase

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'They Had to Do What They Did'; Team Owner Hendrick Says NASCAR Had No Choice but to Put Gordon in Chase

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Litke

JOLIET, ILL. | Rick Hendrick said he'd never seen the NASCAR brass reverse an important ruling during his 30-plus years in the sport.

But NASCAR's most successful team owner found plenty to like in the move, which restored driver Jeff Gordon to the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship after he failed to qualify in last week's scandal-plagued race at Richmond.

"I didn't have to make that decision, but I sure felt like it was obvious that (Gordon) got taken out by a manipulation instead of getting beat," Hendrick said Sunday. "I think the world knew it and they had to do what they did."

NASCAR chairman Brian France made the decision to restore Gordon to the season-ending playoff, announcing it Friday along with a stern warning that the organization wouldn't tolerate any more attempts to manipulate the outcome of races. It came at the end of a frenetic week when NASCAR's credibility was on the line.

Officials were forced to take a second look at the results from last week's race at Richmond once they learned Clint Bowyer deliberately spun to bring out a caution to stop leader Ryan Newman from winning. A win by Newman would have eliminated Martin Truex Jr., Bowyer's teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing, from a Chase berth.

Once officials dug deeper, however, their investigation found at three separate attempts to manipulate the race. NASCAR could not prove the teams were working together, although Gordon wound up being clearly disadvantaged by the schemes, missing the final qualifying spot by one place. Gordon, a four-time champion, wasn't eligible for either of the two wild-card spots. That prompted France to step in.

"There was one team, one driver, who was directly impacted negatively, as Brian said, by all this, and we decided that we were going to do something that was unprecedented," NASCAR President Mike Helton said on ESPN before Sunday's race. …

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