NASCAR today announced much-anticipated penalties following Sunday's post-race fracas at Texas Motor Speedway involving Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and others, assessing penalties to crew members from the No. 5 and No. 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams.
Jeremy Fuller, a crew member with the No. 5 car (driven by Kasey Kahne, who was not involved in the incident), along with Dwayne Doucette and Jason Ingle, crew members with the No. 24 team, were each fined $25,000 and suspended from NASCAR for six races for their involvement in Sunday's brawl. Officially, they were deemed 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, another crew member with the No. 24 team, was fined $10,000 and suspended from NASCAR for three races for being "involved in a post-race physical altercation with another crew member on pit road."
Per the NASCAR rule book, crew chiefs are responsible for the actions of their crew members. Therefore, Kenny Francis, crew chief of the No. 5 team, and Alan Gustafson, crew chief of Gordon's No. 24 team, were each fined $50,000 and placed on NASCAR probation for six races.
“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,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR senior vice president, competition and racing development. “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.”
During the closing laps of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas, Keselowski attempted to split the Chevrolets of Gordon and eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson, only to run into Gordon’s car and cut the left rear tire. Gordon spun, eventually finishing 29th -- a position that put his title chances in serious jeopardy.
After the race, Gordon drove to pit road, parked next to Keselowski's No. 2 car, walked toward it and waited for Keselowski to get out of the vehicle. With one of Keselowski’s crewmen separating the two drivers, Gordon began shouting at the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
Race runner-up Kevin Harvick then shoved Keselowski toward Gordon, which sparked the melee which resulted in today's penalties.
Shortly after NASCAR issued the penalties, Hendrick Motorsports released a statement saying it would not appeal.
“With NASCAR’s new Chase format, we’re seeing an unprecedented level of intensity every single week,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “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.”
On Monday afternoon, Roger Penske, owner of Team Penske, released a statement in support of his driver.
"The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has provided great excitement and intense competition," Penske said. "Brad Keselowski is a champion who competes to win in every race, which is what I expect of him. While the actions by others following the race in Texas were unfortunate, Brad has my 100 percent support as we now move on to Phoenix for the next stage of the NASCAR championship."