Jeff Gluck, USA TODAY Sports
CONCORD, N.C. - In an unprecedented move, NASCAR levied the biggest penalty in its history Monday night and altered the makeup of its playoff field two days after it was set.
Gone from the Chase for the Sprint Cup is Michael Waltrip Racing driver Martin Truex Jr., who had made the championship playoff field after teammates Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers apparently manipulated the outcome of Saturday night's Richmond race under orders from the team.
Ryan Newman, whose playoff hopes were seemingly thwarted by MWR's foul play, was put back into the Chase. But Jeff Gordon, also affected, remained out of the Chase.
"We penalize to ask for it to not happen again," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. "It's a message from the sanctioning body to say, 'You can't do this.'
MORE: Bowyer Apologizes to Newman
After warning the drivers to race "fair and square" in a prerace meeting, NASCAR ultimately felt it had to act. Included in the penalty was a record-setting fine of $300,000 to MWR and a deduction of 50 points for each driver. But, it made the points penalty only apply to the regular season - meaning Bowyer will be able to start the Chase only 15 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.
Helton said its penalty was focused on MWR's action and could not address the "ripple effect" created by the fallout. Therefore, although Newman became Chase-eligible with the 50-point penalty to Truex, no aid was given to Gordon.
Gordon was among those confused by the decision on Bowyer.
"Feel bad for Truex," Gordon tweeted Monday. "He got in under controversy now out due to it. But the guy who started all of this (Bowyer) not (a)ffected at all??? Don't agree!
"At this point all that matters to me is if @NASCAR decides to fix this then fix it completely!"