NASCAR fined Jeff Gordon $100,000 Monday, but the four-time champion escaped suspension for his role in Sunday’s chaotic Sprint Cup race conclusion at Phoenix International Raceway.
Gordon, who admitted crashing Clint Bowyer late in the race in retaliation, also was docked 25 series points and placed on probation until Dec. 31.
Alan Gustafson, Gordon’s crew chief, also was placed on probation. Team owner Rick Hendrick lost 25 owner points.
Brian Pattie, Bowyer’s crew chief, was fined $25,000 and placed on probation.
Bowyer was not penalized.
In a matter removed from the Gordon-Bowyer incidents and the post-race mayhem that followed, championship contender Brad Keselowski was fined $25,000 and placed on probation for having a cell phone in his race car. He posted on his Twitter account during the red flag that delayed the finish of the race.
“Following a thorough analysis of the actions that took place during Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, we have issued penalties based upon our review,” NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton said in a statement. “The decisions announced today cover NASCAR’s full assessment of penalties for the incidents that occurred.
“There’s no doubt that a unique set of circumstances combined with a championship battle on the line resulted in raw emotions coming into play. We consider the penalties appropriate, and those involved understand our decision, and we expect them to abide by them.”
Some had anticipated that Gordon would be parked for Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway after he admitted crashing Bowyer late in the Phoenix race.
Hendrick said he will not appeal the penalties.
“I’ve always respected Jeff for standing his ground,” Hendrick said in a statement released by the team. “We also respect that NASCAR needs to police the sport and send a message when situations like this occur. It’s been a great year, and we’re going to put our focus on finishing in a positive way this weekend.”
In the same statement, Gordon said, “I take responsibility for my actions on the race track. I accept NASCAR’s decision and look forward to ending the season on a high note at Homestead.”
The rolling fight and secondary pushing and shoving in the garage area after the race involved dozens of people, in particular members of the Gordon and Bowyer teams. Bowyer team members appeared to start the incident by going after Gordon a few minutes after the race, an action which apparently resulted in Pattie’s fine.
The fight escalated from there as members of the 24 team tried to protect Gordon and NASCAR officials jumped into the middle of the pile in an attempt to break up the activity.
Tempers continued to boil as Bowyer climbed from his car and ran – reporters, crew members and others trying to keep pace – to Gordon’s hauler, where a NASCAR official stopped him from entering.
The frantic final laps and the race’s aftermath spread talk across social media like wildfire, as fans lined up behind Gordon or Bowyer. Drivers had their say, too.
Denny Hamlin posted on Twitter that “The 24 (Gordon) should be parked! He took out 5 cars in that BS!”
As observers debated the Gordon vs. Bowyer situation, the incident most often mentioned in comparisons was Kyle Busch’s wrecking of Ron Hornaday Jr. in a Camping World Truck Series race last year at Texas Motor Speedway. Busch slammed Hornaday’s truck into the outside wall at a high rate of speed during a caution period.
In a rare major penalty, NASCAR parked Busch for the remaining races – Nationwide and Sprint Cup – at Texas that weekend.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.