Robby Gordon received a season-saving reprieve from a NASCAR appeals committee Wednesday when the three-member panel restored the 100 points he had been docked for an infraction at Daytona.
The National Stock Car Racing Commission also lifted crew chief Frank Kerr’s six-week suspension, but raised his monetary fine from $100,000 to $150,000.
“We are grateful the commissioners rescinded the points penalty and suspension but disappointed by the fine,” Gordon said.
“Still, we see this as a victory for Robby Gordon Motorsports. We feel like justice was done and appreciate NASCAR creating a system that allowed us to take our appeal to the ... commission.”
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The rare appeals victory drastically eases Gordon’s burden for the foreseeable future. Based on the penalty and a crash Sunday in Las Vegas that led to a 42nd-place finish, Gordon had plummeted to 37th in the standings.
That put him below the coveted top-35 mark, which guarantees drivers a spot in the field each week, and put NASCAR’s only independent driver-owner in jeopardy of missing races. With the points restored, Gordon is 21st in the standings and already thinking about making NASCAR’s championship Chase.
“We plan to put this issue behind us and concentrate on making the Chase in 2008,” he said. “Our goal is to be a model team in the future and never go through something like this again.”
Gordon was caught with an unapproved front bumper on his Dodge during the first inspection for the season-opening Daytona 500. He had defected from Ford to Dodge just a week before, and his team scrambled to build cars with parts provided by the manufacturer.
Dodge inadvertently sent Gordon a prototype bumper it is hoping to get approved for competition.
“It was an unfortunate series of human errors compounded by the very short timeframe RGM had to get their car changed to Dodge Chargers in time for the Daytona 500,” said Kipp Owen, director of SRT and Dodge Motorsports Engineering.
In the appeal, Gordon argued the bumper came from the manufacturer, did not provide a competition advantage because it was discovered prior to being allowed on the racetrack, and that the bumper met the templates.
The panel – consisting of chairman George Silbermann, Bud Moore and Doug Fritz – decided that the team is ultimately responsible for the car’s conformance, or nonconformance, to the rules.
But, it also ruled that Gordon had an extraordinary and unusual set of circumstances.