When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series last was here, controversy ensued – one of the biggest controversies in the sport’s 65-year history. Several days after the annual early September event that precedes the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Michael Waltrip Racing was penalized for trying to manipulate the finishing order by purposely causing a caution period to secure Martin Truex Jr. a spot in the sport’s “playoffs” that are contested over the final 10 races of each season.
Faced with NASCAR’s credibility being called into question, Chairman and CEO Brian France reacted quickly – and concisely – in a manner that had people comparing him to his father, Bill France Jr. and his grandfather, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. MWR’s three teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series were penalized 50 points each, which removed Truex from the Chase and allowed Ryan Newman to get into the field. MWR also was fined $300,000. In addition, Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports were placed on probation for some accompanying late-race hijinks deemed to be designed to manipulate the finishing order. France made the bold move of righting the wrongs by adding a 13th driver to the Chase field normally limited to 12 – Jeff Gordon.
France called it an “unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances” that resulted in “the right outcome to protect our integrity, which is our number one goal of NASCAR.”