Jeff Gordon penalized for wreck

Updated: November 13, 2012, 2:20 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon was fined $100,000, docked 25 points and placed on probation for the remainder of the season for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer late in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.

"I take responsibility for my actions on the racetrack," Gordon said in a statement. "I accept NASCAR's decision and look forward to ending the season on a high note at Homestead."

The incident left Bowyer with a 28th-place finish, eliminating him from contention for the championship with one race remaining.

Also on Monday, Rick Hendrick was docked 25 owner points and Alan Gustafson was placed on probation for the remainder of the year under the rule that stipulates the crew chief is responsible for his driver and team members during a race event.

Bowyer's crew chief, Brian Pattie, was fined $25,000 and placed on probation through Dec. 31.

Members of each team were involved in a scuffle on pit road and in the garage after the wreck.

In an unrelated event to the Gordon-Bowyer incident, points leader Brad Keselowski was fined $25,000 for having a cellphone -- it falls into the category of an onboard computer -- in his car.

"There's no doubt that a unique set of circumstances combined with a championship battle on the line resulted in raw emotions coming into play," NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton said in a statement. "We consider the penalties appropriate and those involved understand our decision and we expect them to abide by them."

The loss of points dropped Gordon to 11th in the standings. Only the top 10 in points are allowed to attend the champions' banquet on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas.

Had Bowyer posted a top-5 finish -- which he was working on at the time of the incident -- he would be mathematically within range of catching Keselowski on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Instead, he is fourth in the standings, 52 points out.

Gordon avoided suspension as Kyle Busch received last year for the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races at Texas after intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. in the Truck Series under caution.

NASCAR did not specify what the differences were between Gordon's retaliation and Busch's.

NASCAR met with Gordon, Bowyer and others in the NASCAR hauler after the race to discuss what happened on the track and the ensuing fights off it.

According to Bowyer and his spotter, Gordon waited on the track to wreck him after the two made contact earlier, cutting down one of Gordon's tires. When Bowyer came back around, Gordon slammed his car into the side of the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, collecting Joey Logano's car in the process.

Bowyer said it was "pretty embarrassing for a four-time champion and what I consider one of the best this sport's ever seen ... to act like that is just completely ridiculous."

Gordon said his response was an accumulation of frustration from incidents throughout the year, beginning when Bowyer wrecked him and teammate Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville.

"Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me, and he got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day,'' Gordon said after the race. "I've had it, fed up with it, and I got him back."

The incident escalated on pit road, first with members of Bowyer's team physically going after Gordon and his crew members. Bowyer then sprinted to the garage to take on members of Gordon's crew at the No. 24 hauler.

Bowyer didn't rule out retaliating against Gordon in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"We'll just have to see," he said.

But Bowyer did apologize on Twitter for using the word "retard" in an interview that drew criticism on Twitter.

"It makes us look like a bunch of retards," Bowyer told reporters after meeting with NASCAR.

On Monday, MWR put out a statement in response to everything that happened.

"The goal of Michael Waltrip Racing is to be a championship-level organization both on and off the track," the statement said. "The on-track incident which occurred during Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway was extremely disappointing and brought raw emotions of a long and hard championship battle to the surface.

"Though we generally cannot control certain actions on the track, the unfortunate reactions off the track Sunday did not live up to the professional standards in which Michael Waltrip Racing expects all of its representatives to live by. We commit to our sponsors, our manufacturer, our fans and NASCAR that we will do so in the future."

Gordon was criticized by some of his fellow competitors after the race. Logano tweeted: "When I was young I thought @JeffGordonWeb was the best driver. Now I've lost a lot of respect for him. #verydumb"

Second-place finisher Denny Hamlin even got into an exchange with Gordon's wife, Ingrid Vandebosch, on Twitter. He wrote: "love ya Ingrid but your man was wrong. He wrecked trying to wreck 15 first."

Asked if he was worried about a potential penalty after the race, Gordon said, "They've got to do what they've got to do, and I guess I had to do what I had to do."

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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