So what to make of NASCAR's penalties stemming from the Phoenix race? Overall, they seem a bit inconsistent but also mostly appropriate.
Let's go through each penalty and discuss them separately:
Jeff Gordon avoids suspension
Gordon should have been suspended for blatantly wrecking a championship contender, but it's not too surprising NASCAR didn't go that route. It still gave him with a 25-point penalty and $100,000 fine – which dropped him out of the top 10 for now – but Gordon gets to race at Homestead and keep his consecutive starts streak (688 races) alive for the future.
NASCAR must have felt Gordon's penalty was not the same as Kyle Busch wrecking Ron Hornaday in the Truck Series last year, probably because Gordon doesn't have the same history Busch did. If Busch fans believe that's a double standard, they have valid argument. It's not a consistent penalty, but NASCAR must have cut Gordon a break because it felt Sunday's action was out of character for the four-time champion.
"I take responsibility for my actions on the racetrack," Gordon said in a statement. "I accept NASCAR's decision and look forward to ending the season on a high note at Homestead."
Crew chiefs get probation, one fined
Clint Bowyer crew chief Brian Pattie was fined $25,000 and placed on probation for failing to keep control of his pit crew (members of which went after Gordon and sparked the brawl).
Similarly, Gordon crew chief Alan Gustafson was placed on probation – but was not fined.
The only interpretation here is NASCAR felt Bowyer's pit crew was more at fault than Gordon's. That's fair, since the No. 15 team started it, after all.
No penalty for Clint Bowyer or crewmen
Bowyer escaped NASCAR penalty completely, which is the right call. Ultimately, all he did was sprint to the garage and point a finger at Gordon's hauler – he didn't actually do anything penalty-worthy.
Perhaps more curious was the lack of penalty for any crew member involved in the fight. NASCAR just opted to penalize the crew chiefs for not keeping control of their teams. That's odd, because crew members have been individually fined in the past for their roles in altercations (remember Ryan Newman's gas man at Darlington this year?).
Brad Keselowski fined for tweeting
This was a stunner: Brad Keselowski, who single-handedly changed NASCAR's technology reputation by tweeting during a red flag at the Daytona 500, was penalized for this red-flag tweet on Sunday:
NASCAR deemed his use of a phone in the car unacceptable and fined him $25,000 while also placing him on probation.
This doesn't seem to make much sense. Keselowski was not fined or penalized for his Daytona tweet but was penalized for his Phoenix tweet (both were during the red flag).
NASCAR apparently promised to crack down on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices after Daytona because officials fear drivers could use them to provide an advantage. Maybe drivers could use apps to determine their pit road speed or fuel level if phones were allowed, so NASCAR could have a point.
On the other hand, it seems like terrible publicity to crack down on a driver for interacting with the fans. Keselowski's Daytona tweet drew so much positive attention from around the world, and now NASCAR is discouraging it.
Perhaps there's a way to find a happy medium – like NASCAR-issued Sprint phones with only the Twitter app loaded onto it. Then, if there's a red flag, drivers could tweet away.