NASCAR docks Gordon, Johnson 100 points

Jun 26, 2007 - 9:15 PM DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Ticker) -- NASCAR penalized Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson on Tuesday, docking each Nextel Cup Series driver 100 points.

The penalties are a result of rule infractions found this past weekend at Infineon Raceway, the site of Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350.

The front fenders on each driver's Chevrolet Impala were too wide, meaning the cars did not fit the template for a Car of Tomorrow, a newly designed, safety-oriented racer featured prominently on the Nextel Cup Series this season.

The news comes at an inopportune time for the Hendrick Motorsports teammates, both of whom are in serious contention for this year's Chase for the Championship.

"We are disappointed in NASCAR's decision and feel the penalties are excessive," team owner Rick Hendrick said in a written statement. "Right now, all of our options are being evaluated, including our personnel situation and a possible appeal to the National Stock Car Racing Commission."

A four-time series champion, Gordon finished seventh Sunday and extended his cushion atop the series standings to 271 points. But he saw that lead shrink to 171 points over Denny Hamlin after Tuesday's ruling.

The penalty could be even more harmful for Johnson, who has struggled considerably over the past month. The reigning series champion ran 17th Sunday, his fourth consecutive finish outside the top 10.

Johnson, who trails Gordon by 366 points, fell two spots to fifth in the standings while Matt Kenseth climbed to third and Jeff Burton moved to fourth.

Both Gordon and Johnson were not allowed to practice or qualify Friday at Sonoma's road course. As a result, the two drivers were forced to start from the rear of the 43-car field.

Their crew chiefs - Steve Letarte and Chad Knaus - were each fined $100,000 and suspended for six races. Letarte and Knaus also were placed on probation until the end of the year.

"We'll take some time to decide on a direction and make an announcement regarding our plans for New Hampshire later in the week," Hendrick said.

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