Following the fight at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday night, NASCAR has issued penalties against crew members on both the No. 5 and No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports teams.
Jeremy Fuller off of Kasey Kahne‘s No. 5 team, along with Dwayne Doucette and Jason Ingle off of Jeff Gordon‘s No. 24 team, have been each fined $25,000 and suspended from NASCAR through the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points races. The three crew members were found in violation of section 12-1 (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and section 12-4.9 (Behavioral penalty – involved in a post-race physical altercation with a driver on pit road).
Dean Mozingo, also off of Gordon’s 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 section 12-1 (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and section 12-4.9 (Behavioral penalty – involved in a post-race physical altercation with another crew member on pit road).
Both Kenny Francis, crew chief for Kahne, and Alan Gustafson, crew chief for Gordon, have 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 section 9-4A (Crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his team members), section 12-1 (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and section 12-4.9 (Behavioral penalty).
“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,” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR senior vice president, competition and racing development. said. “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. 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.”
The race would go beyond it’s extended distance, bringing forth a green-white-checkered with Gordon leading ahead of Johnson, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch. Gordon, as the current race leader, would make the choice to go on the outside for the restart, based on how well it worked for him the previous time. However, it wouldn’t go according to plan as Johnson would get the advantage, taking the lead as the field headed into turn one. Gordon would be stuck on the outside, finding himself alongside Kevin Harvick.
Keselowski would then try to stick his nose between the cars of Gordon and Harvick, resulting in contact between Gordon and Keselowski. The result would be a flat tire for Gordon, causing him to drop through the field and spin around to bring out the caution. Gordon expressed his displeasure post-incident, stating, “The f—ing 2 car ran into us” over the radio. Meanwhile, Keselowski was told by his spotter that Gordon came down into him, in which Keselowski replied, “We were on new tires – got a better run than he did.”
Following the race, Gordon would get out of his car and walk over to Keselowski, confronting him as a pair of crew members held Gordon back. Keselowski would go to leave the main circle, when he was pushed back into the center by Harvick. Harvick commented post-race that he pushed Keselowski back in because “he should fight his own fight”. Gordon would get a hold of Keselowski’s collar and from that point on, the fight would be on among the drivers and teams.
Following the announcement, Rick Hendrick–who owns the cars of Kahne and Gordon–issued the following statement:
“With NASCAR’s new Chase format, we’re seeing an unprecedented level of intensity every single week. Emotions run high when you’re racing for a championship, and that’s exciting for our fans and everyone involved with the sport. But there’s a line the competitors need to be cognizant of, and we understand that.
“Jeff (Gordon) was rightfully fired up Sunday night, and it just reiterated to me how passionate he is and how much he wants to win. The No. 24 team is a group that works together and is loyal to one another. They have our full support as we go into these final two races.”
Hendrick Motorsports added that team members involved in the incident will not be additionally sanctioned by Hendrick Motorsports.