Gordon wins qualifying race, fails inspection

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Four-time Nextel Cup champion Jeff Gordon will start 42nd in Sunday's Daytona 500 after failing post-race inspection following the second of Thursday's two 150-mile qualifying races.

Because the infraction -- the rear panel was almost an inch too low -- was not considered intentional to create a competitive advantage, Gordon will be allowed to keep his victory in the qualifying race.

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said no further penalties would be levied against Gordon's team.

It was the third straight day NASCAR's governing body passed out penalties at Daytona International Speedway.

The crew chiefs for Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler and Scott Riggs were suspended and fined Tuesday for violations discovered during Sunday's pre- and post-race inspections involving the aerodynamics of their cars.

On Wednesday, Michael Waltrip's crew chief and competition director were suspended indefinitely for an illegal substance found in the engine of the No. 55 Toyota. The crew chief, David Hyder, also was fined $100,000 and, according to sources, will be fired.

Gordon was unaware of the issue until informed during his post-race interview.

"That would really suck," he said.

Pemberton said the shock fastener and spacers used to hold the rear shocks that are installed during pre-race preparation for restrictor plate races were misaligned.

He said it likely was a mistake made by the mechanic.

"We felt it was unintentional," Pemberton said. "Actually, it was unsafe. We felt it was a part failure and unintentionally done."

David Newton covers Nextel Cup for ESPN.com.