Six crew members from the Hendrick Motorsports organisation have been penalised over the post-race brawl that broke out on pit lane at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday evening following the AAA Texas 500.
Jeff Gordon went to confront Brad Keselowski over an incident late in the race that saw Gordon spun out, and crew members from the Hendrick squad went with him to face-off against their Penske counterparts.
Film evidence showed Keselowski being punched in the face by at least one Hendrick crew member, but there was no evidence that either driver had themselves landed a punch on each other.
Accordingly, NASCAR's decision on penalties announced on Tuesday night does not include any sanctions for either Keselowski or Gordon. Instead, those who have been found at fault are all from the Hendrick side of the confrontation.
Two members of Gordon's #24 crew, Dwayne Doucette and Jason Ingle, along with a third crew member from the sister team working on Kasey Kahne's #5 car Jeremy Fuller, have all been fined $25,000 and suspended for six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races for being involved in a post-race physical altercation with a driver on pit road.
A third member of the #24 team, Dean Mozingo, was fined the lesser amount of $10,000 and suspended for the next three races. The lesser penalty in Mozingo's case was because his altercation was with another crew member rather than one of the principal drivers.
In addition, NASCAR's rules make the crew chiefs of the #5 and #24 teams - Kenny Francis and Alan Gustafson respectively - responsible for the actions of the people working for them in the paddock. Accordingly, both men have each been handed $50,000 fines and placed on NASCAR probation through the completion of the next six Cup events.
“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,” explained NASCAR's senior vice president for competition and racing development Robin Pemberton.
"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," he continued. "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 rule book.
"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," he added.
After the penalties were handed down, a statement from Hendrick Motorsport said that the organisation did not intend to exercise its right of appeal, and that it would also not be imposing any additional internal sanctions on any members of staff involved. The team subsequently added that it would be paying all the cash fines on behalf of the penalised crew members and the two crew chiefs.
"With NASCAR's new Chase format, we're seeing an unprecedented level of intensity every single week,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. "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," Hendrick noted. "The #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."
With none of the penalties impacting on Gordon's standing in the championship, he's free to go into this weekend's race at Phoenix International Raceway still in contention for one of the final four Chase positions that will fighting over the 2014 title the following week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Keselowski - who is currently himself on NASCAR probation for an altercation that took place last month after a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway - will also be in with a chance to secure a transfer spot to the winner-take-all season finale line-up after receiving the full backing of his team owner, Roger Penske.
"Brad Keselowski is a champion who competes to win in every race, which is what I expect of him," said Penske on Monday. “While the actions by others following the race in Texas were unfortunate, Brad has my 100 percent support as we now move on to Phoenix for the next stage of the NASCAR championship."
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