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NASCAR History: When Jeff Gordon Was Added to Playoffs to Protect the “Integrity” of the Sport in 2013

Gowtham Ramalingam

NASCAR History: When Jeff Gordon Was Added to Playoffs to Protect the “Integrity” of the Sport in 2013

The tendency of NASCAR to bend its rules or even create new ones to suit circumstances has been apparent in many instances. A memorable one is how it sent Jeff Gordon into the 2013 playoffs despite him not getting through the cut on the race track. The reason given was that teams had conspired together to beat Gordon at the final race before the Chase.

The race at Richmond Raceway saw Gordon fall prey to two different moves by other teams that put him at an unfair disadvantage. First, Team Penske and Front Row Motorsports had worked together to let Joey Logano pass David Gilliland and get a top-10 spot. Logano finishing in the top 10 meant he had gathered up a spot in the 12-car Chase for the Championship field at Gordon’s expense, who was one point shy of him.

When NASCAR came to know about the coalition days later, it took the matter very seriously and ended up putting both teams on probation. Gordon was already reeling from another conspiracy when this happened. The sanctioning body found evidence after reviewing audio and video footage that Michael Waltrip Racing had manipulated the race finish at Richmond to help Martin Truex Jr. qualify.

The team had ordered multiple pit stops in the final moments of the race after Clint Bowyer suspiciously spun with seven laps to go. The sequence was determined to be an effort towards helping Truex Jr. gain additional points. Without that late caution, Ryan Newman would’ve qualified as the wild card entry and the tenth place would’ve fallen to Gordon. But Truex Jr. ended up being the wild card and Logano finished in the top 10.

NASCAR’s reason for adding Jeff Gordon to the Chase

After adding Gordon as the 13th driver in the originally 12-driver chase field, Bill France said, I have the authority to do that, we are going to do that. It is an unprecedented and extraordinary thing, but it’s also an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances. We believe this is the right outcome to protect the integrity, which is our No. 1 goal, of NASCAR.”

The rare circumstance offered Gordon the opportunity to win the championship for the fifth time. Into the playoffs, he won a race in Martinsville and collected two more top-5 finishes. But these results weren’t enough for the title as his teammate Jimmie Johnson ended up being crowned champion at the end of the year. He finished sixth in the standings.

About the author

Gowtham Ramalingam

Gowtham Ramalingam

Gowtham is a NASCAR journalist at The SportsRush. Though his affinity for racing stems from Formula 1, he found himself drawn to NASCAR's unparalleled excitement over the years. As a result he has shared his insights and observations by authoring over 350 articles on the sport. An avid fiction writer, you can find him lost in imaginary worlds when he is not immersed in racing. He hopes to continue savoring the thrill of every lap and race together with his readers for as long as he can.

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