Jeff Gordon has been added to NASCAR’s 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup as a 13th driver, on Friday, September 13. Because naturally, you can’t make this stuff up.
NASCAR CEO Brian France and President Mike Helton had a brief press conference Friday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. and mainly cited “extraordinary circumstances” based on the events in the last 10 laps at Richmond last week.
“Based upon the totality of our findings, to be fair and equitable we decided that adding a 13th car to this year’s Chase is the appropriate action,” France said in a statement. “Beginning with our decision Monday, which resulted in an unprecedented team penalty, and continuing with further examination of actions involving two other race teams, it is clear to us that attempts to manipulate the results impacted the Chase field. The integrity of our sport remains the cornerstone of NASCAR, and our actions this week speak to our commitment to ensure a level playing field for all competitors.”
France added during the press conference, “It wasn’t one set of circumstances that led us to this decision. It’s multiple set of circumstamces. Any one of them could have given a disadvantage. It was overwhelming in our view that it just wasn’t fair.”
Additionally, Helton confirmed Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports would be placed on probation for the remainder of the season for the radio communications from Front Row regarding David Gilliland, its driver, and Joey Logano, Penske’s exchanging positions late in the race.
A mandatory meeting will be held with drivers, crew chiefs and owners on Saturday to clarify rules and evaluate the ethics of the rules going forward for the series.
A tweet from Gordon expressed his understandable delight.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.