So has the absolute final chase field been set yet? Recapping Richmond ... apparently Michael Waltrip Racing wanted their second driver, Martin Truex Jr, to have a spot in the chase. And while most teams and drivers have said for years that they would do anything to make the chase (and win a championship ... the next phase of the season) it appears that MWR crossed an invisible line. NASCAR saw the final pit stop by MWR teammate Brian Vickers as unneeded. They did not rule MWR teammate Clint Boyer's spin prior to that pit stop as intentional. But "team orders" coming from the GM of the team were enough for MWR to receive a hefty pre-chase penalty. All three drivers and their cars were docked 50 points (although Vickers is not racing for points the 55 car does get points). Knocking Martin Truex Jr out of the chase put Ryan Newman in. That decision was simple math ... he was next in line after Truex lost his points. But the actions of MWR also affected another driver and team, Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports. The "ripple effect" of Boyer and Vickers finishing lower in the race finish was that Joey Logano (Penske Racing) finished in the top 10 for the season instead of a wild card position. This knocked Jeff Gordon out of the top 10. NASCAR did not want to deal with the ripple effect ... but as the negative publicity grew and further "evidence" of a possible deal between Penske and Front Row Motorsports to give Logano another spot before Boyer's spin - and the actions of Front Row to actually give up that spot on the restart after Boyer's sping - was enough for NASCAR to announce (appropriately on Friday the 13th) that there would be 13 drivers in this year's chase field. No deal was proven to NASCAR (the court of public opinion may have a different opinion) so only probation was given to the two teams involved. But Gordon got his due. On NASCAR's rulings: I see this week's rulings as "that was wrong, what can we do to make it right". The initial ruling was simple and easy to explain. Three teams were punished and math changed the chase. Despite the calls for Clint Boyer to be removed from the chase he had earned his spot before Richmond ... he kept his spot. One option for the second ruling would have been pre-chase points penalties for the teams involved. But what would the outcome be? Give Logano a points penalty and he still makes the chase as a wild card. The math outcome of such a penalty would have been Gordon in an Newman out. A messy situation ... so the "clean" way to handle this is to have 13 chasers. At the end of the day it is IRRELEVANT. In the past 9 years of the chase only one driver who started the chase in 9th place has ever won the chase (Tony Stewart in 2011). Kurt Busch started 7th and won in 2004. While I'd like to see Gordon or Newman win a championship expecting to become a superstar in the last 10 races after squeaking in to the chase is a challenge. (I'd like to see Gordon become 5-time before 5-time becomes 6-time. I'd like to see Newman win a championship in a year he was let go. Both would be good stories.) Team Orders: Giving up a spot to give a teammate or friend a point is a long TRADITION of NASCAR. Now it is a crime? Letting someone lead a lap for a bonus point then having them give it back is very common. And this is far from the first time someone has traded positions to help another driver. I'm not sure how NASCAR goes forward after these penalties. Or will it be a case of "don't embarrass the sport by making your deals so public!" It was the public shaming that pushed NASCAR into the unprecedented actions they took this week. Hopefully the sport can go on and get out of the press other than positive stories ... who is winning, who is doing well. Not the controversies.