|Helton and France draw their line in the sand|
In the aftermath of Saturday night’s regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway that saw a number of teams attempt to manipulate the outcome of the race, NASCAR President Mike Helton said Friday that the sanctioning body will meet with teams to “make more clear the path going forward as it applies to the rules of racing and the ethical part of it.”
NASCAR chairman Brian France announced yesterday that he has added Jeff Gordon as a 13th Chase contender; the latest in a series of moves that included a historic, $300,000 fine levied against Michael Waltrip Racing. Those sanctions resulted in the removal of MWR driver Martin Truex, Jr. from the Chase field and the addition of Ryan Newman. NASCAR has also placed Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports on probation for the remainder of the season as a result of late-race position swapping by drivers Joey Logano and David Gilliland.
France cited that “multiple set of circumstances” as justification for adding Gordon to the Chase. Now, NASCAR will reportedly draw its ethical line in the sand today, telling teams specifically what will – and will not – be tolerated going forward.
|Johnson: "This is all new territory."|
“We owe it to the drivers, and we also want to get input,” said France yesterday. “There are lines (and) they will be much clearer coming out of tomorrow than they are today. The most important thing is the integrity of the event, and we'll deal with that.”
Coming off a week filled with emotional twists and turns, Gordon said he welcomes NASCAR’s input.
“I’m excited for this meeting.” he said. “I think that the integrity of the sport has been put in question. I think we have one of the greatest sports that exists. To see our integrity get questioned is very upsetting to me, and I think we, along with NASCAR, have to solve this.
“I think we're going to get reprimanded a little bit,” predicted Gordon, “because it doesn't all lie on NASCAR. We all have responsibility in this.”
Former series champion Jimmie Johnson agreed, saying, “I’m sure (there will be) a lot of threats and things. This is something I’ve never seen or been a part of in my career. This is all new territory, so this is going to be the start of a process. It’s a big deal for Mike Helton and Brian France to say they care this much about the integrity of the event. At the end of the day, all we can hope for is to go out there and race in an event where the best man wins.”
Not everyone feels the meeting is necessary, however. Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne said he has no problem differentiating ethical on-track conduct from what occurred at Richmond.
“I feel like I have plenty of clarity,” he said. “I feel like I know what you’re supposed to do and what you’re not. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult. I’m going to go tomorrow and make sure what I’m thinking is correct, but I don’t think I’m missing too much right now.”
Necessary or not, NASCAR seems determined to make a clear statement regarding future on-track conduct.
“No matter what it takes, the integrity of the sport will never be in question,” said Helton. “We're going to make sure that we have the right rules going forward, so that the integrity of the competitive landscape of the events (is) not altered or manipulated.”