Kenseth Suspended Two Races for Wrecking Logano

We all knew a punishment was coming. Some expected a hefty one, some expected a slap on the wrist, but nonetheless, Matt Kenseth paid for what he did.

Kenseth was placed on probation for the next six months following the incident with Joey Logano at Martinsville Speedway this past weekend. He is also suspended for the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events taking place at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, making up the rest of the Eliminator 8 round in The Chase. 

He will be back for the season finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. NASCAR said this move warranted a behavioral penalty (sections 12.1, 12.8 in the NASCAR rulebook).

No further penalties, such as fines or points deductions, were given to Kenseth, crew chief Jason Ratcliff or the No. 20 team. Essentially, they said Matt Kenseth intentionally wrecked Joey Logano to get back at him for what he did to the No. 20 at Kansas. But instead of giving him a warning, NASCAR wanted to show the rest of the field that this kind of behavior was not to be tolerated in the future due to safety and racing concerns.

In a NASCAR press release Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell explained the organization’s reasoning for the penalties:

“The No. 20 car was nine laps down, and eliminated the No. 22 car’s opportunity to continue to compete in the race,” O’Donnell said. “Additionally, we factored aspects of safety into our decision, and also the fact that the new Chase elimination format puts a premium on each and every race. These actions have no place in NASCAR.”

Also, Danica Patrick was fined $50,000 and has had 25 driver championship points deducted for the No. 10 team. Patrick and David Gilliland have a history and got into it at Martinsville, which ended with Patrick wrecking Gilliland’s No. 38 car. While it was nowhere near as bad as Kenseth’s wreck, when it comes to circumstances, severity and impact, NASCAR took action by penalizing Patrick.

Joe Gibbs Racing immediately announced they will appeal the penalty (hearing scheduled for this Thursday, November 5 at 9:00 am). I don’t expect NASCAR to nullify this penalty, considering the severity of it and how much news Kenseth’s move has made.

In 2010, when Brian France instituted an unwritten code of “boys have at it”, the racing and sport increased in excitement. In NASCAR’s eyes this move by Kenseth crossed the line, so they penalized him.

Many drivers, including his teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, Denny Hamlin, took to Twitter to defend the driver of the No. 20.

Many other fans did the same, as they waited hours for the news to be announced. Ricky Craven went on a little rant on SportsCenter. Personally, I totally agree with him.

I will talk about this in the next episode of the Victory Lane podcast sometime soon, but NASCAR was built on passion and drivers vying for every position they can. Was this vying for a position? Absolutely not. But it was a driver standing up for himself due to an action that his competitor took in a prior race.

The popular saying that many are uttering is that “NASCAR has lost control of the situation.” And sadly, for us fans, the drivers, the sanctioning body and everybody involved, I think NASCAR made a large mistake this week in suspending Matt Kenseth for something most people have done in their racing careers.

This is a part of racing, and everyone saw it coming from a mile away.