It certainly wasn't conventional, but Jeff Gordon has qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Per Bob Pockrass of Sporting News:
NASCAR will put Jeff Gordon in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. #nascar— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) September 13, 2013
For the uninitiated, last Saturday's season-ending race, the Federated Auto Parts 400, came with quite a bit of controversy, and that's putting it lightly.
Shortly after the race was completed and Martin Truex Jr. seemingly qualified for the Chase, there were accusations of foul play.
Gordon was reportedly the victim of a deal between Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing that resulted in David Gilliland slowing down to help Penske's Joey Logano make the Chase. Logano's spot in the Chase, however, is secure.
As Pete Pistone of WGN Radio notes, NASCAR hit the two companies with probation:
#NASCAR announces Front Row Motorsports and Penske Racing on probation until end of year and mandatory owner-crew chief meeting Saturday— Pete Pistone (@PPistone) September 13, 2013
Moreover, NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France, via the Indianapolis Star's Curt Cavin, and Gordon himself, via USA Today's Jeff Gluck and the AP's Jenna Fryer, noted just how unique this entire situation truly is:
"Unprecedented and extraordinary thing." Brian France.— Curt Cavin (@curtcavin) September 13, 2013
Jeff Gordon on ESPN: "I've never been a part of anything like this before."— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 13, 2013
Jeff Gordon on ESPN: "What a roller coaster ride of emotions this week and an unprecedented circumstances."— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 13, 2013
"We've got some issues that need to be addressed. I'm looking forward to that meeting with NASCAR tomorrow," says Gordon.— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) September 13, 2013
Gordon, who has won the Sprint Cup Series four times, will join Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne as wild cards, making it 13 drivers in the field instead of 12 for the first time since the format was changed 10 years ago.
Newman was on his way to a victory in Richmond and a spot in the Chase on Saturday, but Clint Bowyer spun out, setting in motion a series of events that eventually led to Truex, Bowyer's Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, qualifying and Newman and Gordon being left on the outside looking in.
A couple of days ago, however, NASCAR responded by replacing Truex with Newman:
This unprecedented Chase for the Sprint Cup will begin on Sunday with the Geico 400 from the Chicagoland Speedway in Joilet, Ill.