NASCAR pledged it wouldn't render immediate judgment on Jeff Gordon for his role in wrecking Clint Bowyer and upending the end of Sunday's Phoenix race. But officials didn't wait much longer, handing down a decision on Monday evening: a fine of $100,000 and a 25-point penalty.
It was not a surprising penalty, but it will certainly disappoint those who believed Gordon deserved suspension for his actions. Gordon not only ignored a black flag, he altered the championship battle by taking out one of the final contenders.
However, unlike Kyle Busch, suspended last year for a similar incident, Gordon does not have a long track record of flaunting both authority and his fellow drivers. For that reason, he escaped a more severe punishment.
[Related: Brad Keselowski takes 20-point Chase lead]
"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," said NASCAR VP of competition Robin Pemberton. "We consider the penalties appropriate and those involved understand our decision and we expect them to abide by them."
NASCAR also fined Brian Pattie, Bowyer's crew chief, $25,000 for failing to keep his crew in line. Alan Gustafson, Gordon's chief, was placed on probation for the rest of the year over the incident as well.
That settles things from NASCAR's end, but what about the drivers? Bowyer all but pledged retaliation on Gordon. If that happens to have championship implications — unlikely but possible — that could reopen the entire matter. If not, well ... this one goes into the NASCAR storybooks as one of the moments that got the country talking about the sport.
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