NASCAR makes officiating changes before start of Chase

NASCAR announced on Saturday a host of officiating revisions to further reinforce its in-race rules and regulations following a thorough review of the controversial finish in last weekend's regular-season-ending race at Richmond International Raceway.

Officials from NASCAR met briefly with Sprint Cup Series drivers, crew chiefs and team owners at Chicagoland Speedway, the site of the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, to discuss the rule changes that will go into effect, beginning with Sunday's 400-mile event here.

The revisions include: only one team spotter will be allowed on the spotters' stand at the racetrack and a video camera will be installed on the stand to monitor activity. Furthermore, two analog radios, scanners and fan views are the only devices permitted on the stand.

According to NASCAR, a technical bulletin has been issued to all competitors to address the subject of "teams artificially altering the outcome of a race and the level of reaction that this will receive from NASCAR."

"At the center of that meeting was what our expectations were going forward and how we intended -- and those expectations are that a driver and a team give 100 percent effort, their best effort, to complete a race and race as hard as they possibly can," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said during a press conference following the conclusion of the meeting.

"We issued a variety of things, some clarifications and some adjustments to our ability to officiate that. We addressed team rules and a variety of other things all designed to do what our fans expect, and that means that they're driver and their team give 100 percent to finish as high up in a given race as possible. We were very clear about that. That's our expectations. It's an evolving issue in some ways because of historical things that have happened in the past and the subjectivity that may or may not be part of individual calls going forward."

During the press briefing, NASCAR President Mike Helton explained how the sanctioning body has defined "artificially altering."

Helton said, "These are some of the examples that we came up with that's unacceptable in hopes to help define the step we're taking: offering a position in exchange for favor or material benefit; offering material benefit in exchange for track position; directing a driver to give up a position to the benefit of another driver; intentionally causing a caution; causing a caution for the benefit of or determinant of another driver; intentionally wrecking a competitor; intentionally pitting, pulling into the garage to gain advantage for another competitor."

On Friday, NASCAR revealed that Jeff Gordon was added as the 13th driver in the Chase field. The field has included 12 drivers in the past. France said that adding Gordon "is an unprecedented and extraordinary thing, but it's also an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances that unfolded in multiple different ways on Saturday night (at Richmond)."

The sanctioning body also placed Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing on probation for the remainder of the year for "actions detrimental to stock car racing." Officials had been reviewing the radio communications between Joey Logano's No. 22 Penske team and David Gilliland's No. 38 Front Row team to determine if a deal was made to have Gilliland let Logano pass him after the final restart with three laps to go at Richmond.

Logano finished 22nd, and Gilliland was 23rd. Logano secured the final top-10 points spot in the Chase, beating Gordon by only one point.

On Monday, Ryan Newman replaced Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase after NASCAR handed down severe penalties to Michael Waltrip Racing for "attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Richmond race." All three drivers at MWR -- Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and Truex -- were each penalized with a loss of 50 points. The point total for Truex was reduced to 691, putting him 17th in the standings and eliminating him from the final wild card spot.

NASCAR came to the conclusion to issue penalties to MWR based on radio communications between Vickers and his spotter, Ty Norris, just before the final restart with three laps to go. Norris told Vickers to pit in order to give up his running position. It helped Truex get a higher finishing position in the race and therefore give him a Chase berth. Norris, who also serves as vice president/general manager of MWR, has been placed on indefinite suspension. The racing organization received a record $300,000 fine as well.