Jeff Gordon will be racing in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale in Florida next Sunday after all.
NASCAR fined the veteran driver $100,000 and also docked him 25 points in the standings following Sunday's retaliatory crash into Cliff Bowyer at the AdvoCare 500 in Phoenix. The crash also prompted a fight between the two crews in the garage area.
Gordon was angry that Bowyer had hit the side of his car a few laps earlier and later said he had finally had enough after getting run over by Bowyer several times already this season.
"Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me, and he got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day," Gordon was quoted by the Chicago Tribune. "I've had it—fed up with it—and I got him back."
Gordon is also on probation until the end of the calendar year.
"I take responsibility for my actions on the racetrack," Gordon later told USATODAY.com "I accept NASCAR's decision and look forward to ending the season on a high note at Homestead."
NASCAR could have sat him down for the finale, as $100,000 is pocket change for Gordon, a four-time NASCAR champion. The points don't really matter, as Gordon sat 10th in the Chase and was already out of it.
What is a little surprising is that Brad Keselowski, who could wrap up his first-ever Sprint Cup championship next week, was busted for tweeting on a cell phone from his car during the red flag caution period, just before the end of the race.
Yes, they had warned drivers before about carrying such devices in their vehicles–but really, that is what NASCAR's worried about?
The NASCAR powers-that-be should have thrown another caution flag when Danica Patrick wrecked after the restart—which arose after the Gordon-Bowyer tangle also swallowed up Joey Logano.
However, it looked like they just wanted to get the race—won by Kevin Harvick—over with at that point.
It's not the first time NASCAR has done that: following a long caution period with no caution after a crash with less than three laps to go–but it's dangerous. What if Patrick had been struck by another car coming around at high speed while her own vehicle was stuck on the track?
Indy Car driver Alex Zanardi was t-boned back in 2001 and lost both his legs. Stock cars may be more heavily armored than Indy cars, but they're not completely invulnerable.
NASCAR seems to change its rules every other week. Whatever happens next week, though, it shouldn't be boring...then it's wait 'til Daytona in February.
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