Jeff Gordon with the Subway Fresh Fit trophy in Victory Lane. Photo by Jordan McNerney, AARP. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)This isn't the first time that Ryan Newman got robbed at Pocono by NASCAR rules as Jeff Gordon is declared the winner of a rain-shortened race.
It happened Sunday when Newman, who had been fighting hard to race his way into position for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, NASCAR's version of the playoffs. Newman had been 14th in points. Newman was in 6th place. Who knows what another restart would have meant to the final finish. A good run at Pocono chould have put him into 13th place and in contention for a wildcard spot.
But that isn't how it played out. On what became the final laps of the race, a crash by race leaders Jimmy Johnson and Matt Kenseth caused Jeff Gordon to take the lead. There was no effort to hurry to restart the race, knowing that rain was imminent and only 60+ laps to go. In fact, there was a suspiciously long number of caution laps until the long-anticipated rain started falling. Instead of making an effort to finish the race after a rain delay, NASCAR called the race, announcing Gordon the winner.
NASCAR also apparently decided that Gordon, whose win caused him to tie with Ryan Newman at 611 points to take the 13th position in the standings, up two spots. Newman remained in 14th. The result is that Gordon is now the second wildcard spot for the Chase rather than Newman, who earned it.
The final wildcard berth was up for grabs when Kyle Busch who had it previously crashed early on and dropped out of contention. The 11th and 12th places in the Chase are meant for those drivers with the most wins. Kasey Kahne holds the first spot because he is credited with two wins.
NASCAR reasoned that because Gordon had more top 5 finishes than Newman. Personally, I think that is unfair since Newman earned the win and the good finish.
I think it was also unfair in 2007 also when the race at Pocono was called in Gordon's favor just as Newman was about to pass him. Don't remember that, here is the evidence. Newman, in second position was gaining fast when NASCAR halted the race and declared Gordon the win.