After the second post-race fight in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup took place Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, NASCAR has penalized crew members and crew chiefs for the Hendrick Motorsports teams of Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.
Three crew members in total – No. 5 (Kahne) crewman Jeremy Fuller and No. 24 (Gordon) crewmen Dwayne Doucette and Jason Ingle – have each been fined $25,000 and suspended from NASCAR for the next six Sprint Cup Series points races. They can return to competition for the fifth race of the 2015 season at Auto Club Speedway next March.
Another crewman from the No. 24 team, Dean Mozingo, has been fined $10,000 and suspended for the next three Sprint Cup points races. He’ll be able to return for the second race of the 2015 season at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is also next March.
No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson and No. 5 crew chief Kenny Francis have sustained the biggest fines of all – $50,000 apiece. However, they have avoided suspension; instead, they will be on probation for the next six Sprint Cup points races.
All three drivers at the center of the fracas following Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 – Gordon, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick – were not penalized at all.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton had this to say in a statement:
“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. 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 rulebook. 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.”
In a battle for second position, Keselowski made contact with Gordon during the first of two green-white-checkered attempts to finish the race on Sunday. The contact caused Gordon to fall back and moments later, he suffered a tire failure and spun out.
After the race ended with Jimmie Johnson defeating Keselowski on the second G-W-C attempt, Gordon sought out Keselowski on pit road and vented his frustrations.
As Gordon continued to yell, Harvick then pushed Keselowski in the back. Gordon pushed forward and grabbed Keselowski by the collar, triggering the fight between their respective crews. During the scrum, multiple crew members appeared to throw punches at Keselowski.
Shortly after NASCAR handed down its verdict, Hendrick Motorsports announced it would not appeal and would not hand down additional sanctions themselves on their penalized crew members.
Team owner Rick Hendrick said the following in a statement:
“With NASCAR’s new Chase format, we’re seeing an unprecedented level of intensity every single week. 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 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.”