NASCAR Got it Right With Their Penalties For Matt Kenseth

NASCAR Got it Right With Their Penalties For Matt Kenseth

Last week as Martinsville Speedway, Matt Kenseth exacted his revenge on Joey Logano because he didn’t like how Logano was racing him the last few weeks (or longer). NASCAR has decided to come down hard in their penalties for Kenseth’s actions on the track.

Based upon our extensive review, we have concluded that the No. 20 car driver (Kenseth), who is no longer in the Chase, intentionally wrecked the No. 22 car driver (Logano), a Chase-eligible competitor who was leading the race at the time,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “The No. 20 car was nine laps down, and eliminated the No. 22 car’s opportunity to continue to compete in the race. 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.

NASCAR has penalized Matt Kenseth hard. Kenseth has been given a two race suspension meaning he will miss this week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway and the next week at Phoenix International Raceway. He is also on probation for the next six months. There were no monetary fines or loss of points because the result of missing two races far exceeds any monetary fine or loss of points.

“These actions have no place in NASCAR.” Steve O’Donnell is right. Racing for a win or even a position on the track, getting together and perhaps wrecking is one thing. As Brian France the Chairman of NASCAR said “That’s quintessential NASCAR.”  Hunting down a driver only to extract revenge is another.

NASCAR has spoken. “Boys , have at it!” has a limit attached. Racing hard for position while bumping and banging with perhaps wrecking is acceptable and encouraged. Going out and intentionally wrecking someone is not.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for

Feature Photo Credit: 313620 Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

19 thoughts on “NASCAR Got it Right With Their Penalties For Matt Kenseth”

  1. So, JGR is appealing the suspension….if not resolved by Texas, does this allow Kenseth to participate? No announcement yet as far as whether the #20 (on the Texas entry list) may participate with a substitute driver–it’s safe to assume the suspension is ONLY for the driver and not the car. Who would occupy the driver’s seat in Kenseth’s absence?

    1. The money is “inconsequential”…..NASCAR won’t or can’t keep a car off the track for fear of creating a sponsor backlash. Car #20 will still generate revenue for the team for the remainder of the season, so the crew shouldn’t be affected. The Chase has given sponsors a bad taste by it’s all-out focus on the smaller & smaller group of potential Champions as the elimination process takes place. Look at MK’s stats–he’s hardly in the poorhouse: – $200k against winnings over $5 million for 2015 (so far) is a drop in the bucket,and I doubt that he’s squandered his share of his career winnings–the loss of income is chump change/petty cash. Realizing that his best years are in the past and seeing a younger driver have the success that he once enjoyed is the main motivator for his aggression, if you ask me. Maybe MK should consider another line of work for his actions….is Sliced Bread that much of a lightning rod to the older drivers, or has frustration with NASCAR’s management of the racing “product” finally caught up with them?

    2. The fantasy points system used for the Chase ensures MK still finishes somewhere in the Top 16, no matter what. To me, that’s a flaw in the current method used to “create” the Cup champion.

  2. Two race suspension is one race more than I expected but I’m OK with it. I would have suspended Matt for one race…Homestead….The message here is “Don’t mess with my play off!”.

  3. Frankly I believe he should have been parked the rest of the season. And I wrote to JGR, Toyota, Dollar General, and NASCAR telling them similarly. Only Dollar General did respond so far. I hope the JGR appeal is denied on Sunday morning. That low class punt the 20 did on the 22 leading at Martinsville has no place in the NASCAR that I have attended, viewed, and watched for well over 25 years.

  4. Deep down inside, I’d say NASCAR loves the late-season attention. If you didn’t notice, 5 of the last 6 races on the schedule are at ISC tracks, and anything that helps sell tickets is good for both organizations. This is one of the “dirty little secrets” that doesn’t get talked about very much.

  5. I said this on FB and I will repeat it here. I have always believed that Helton and France along with all the NASCAR execs show their “game faces” in public when they are in the roles of enforcers and regulators. After they step out of the spotlight and close the door they high five and do shots because they just gained more free publicity than they could ever pay for, including a untold amount of social media buzz be it positive or negative. The chase in it’s present form, love it or hate it, does what it was designed to do. It generates pressure on the competitors which causes them to alter their behavior which in turn brings national attention to the sport and sells tickets, boasting TV ratings.

    1. Problem is, the TV ratings don’t support the scenario you’ve laid out–and did you happen to notice the number of empty seats at M-ville? (from Jayski) Martinvsville TV Ratings: NASCAR’s final race on cable this season had another decline in the metered markets. NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Martinsville, the seventh race in the Chase For the Cup, had a 1.9 overnight rating on NBCSN Sunday afternoon – down 17% from last year and 2013, which both aired on ESPN (2.3). The 1.9 is the second-highest of this year’s Chase For the Cup on cable, trailing only a 2.5 for Talladega the previous week. The four other races on cable, not including rescheduled action from Charlotte, had either a 1.7 or 1.8. Overnight ratings have now declined for 18 of the 19 Sprint Cup races on cable this season, with Kentucky in July the lone exception. That race, which was even in the metered markets, ended up declining in the final tally. Despite the relatively low numbers, NASCAR on NBCSN easily topped Formula 1 racing from Mexico on the NBC broadcast network (0.6).(ShowBuzz Daily / Sports Media Watch)
      See past race TV Ratings, five-year comparison chart and more on the 2015 TV Ratings page.(11-4-2015)

      Go back in Jayski archives 2 weeks and you’ll see the same thing happened at Talladega. Something is off kilter about the whole racing world as far as attendance. Texas Formula 1 race had major weather challenges, granted, but US race attendance has become quite poor, overall. Mexico City F1 was well-attended, but that’s after 23 years of not being there, and the track is surrounded by literally millions of people.To me, the high in NASCAR was the 1994 Brickyard 400–what an event, huge crowd, and so hard to duplicate that magic.

  6. The only real losers is the low information viewer who spent their kids lunch money for a ticket, or watched it on cable. As viewership continues to decline and the public knows it’s more for show than actually the event. Major companies spending 20+ million will leave at a faster rate. Having a single individual control the rules and put a company logo off the screen is a contractual suit in the making. It’s not JGR nor NASCAR right to penalize a corporate sponsor from receiving their air time. The sponsors pay for air time and demand it in the contract. Having Mr. France decide who gets in a race and who doesn’t is not his decision.

    1. The company logo will appear regardless of Kenseth’s suspension. Erik Jones will drive the car and probably get Dollar General more air time than any non-Chase driver this weekend.

  7. I’m a Logano fan and I think Na$car got it wrong!!! Maybe a small fine. It was short track racing, not 180mph. Am I the only one that seen the tire marks from Kenseth’s car (from braking) sliding into the wall with the 22?

  8. Kenseth did what he had to do and the majority of the drivers agree with his actions it seems.

    The media, being of a herd mentality, were uniformly screaming for blood and they got it.

    I’ve no problem with the penalities although I think they are a bit harsh.

    I thought a 1/2 mil fine, probation, loss of owner points in some fashion and some loss of driver points NEXT YEAR would get the message across.

    What I did expect was a statement issued to both entities (Gibbs and Penske) that this affair was done, finished, ended and that Nascar did not want to see any driver from any team interacting in any way on the track. This isn’t over and there will be continued action on the track related to this (IMO) just not as blatant.

    My first memory of NASCAR is Lee Petty winning the first Daytona 500 (by protest). I’ve been watching NASCAR for a long time and attended many races. This is just one more straw that makes me not plan my weekends around NASCAR much anymore.

    This wasn’t all Kenseth by a long shot.

    1. Yeah, I take “they all agree’ with a very large grain of salt. Every one of them with their “driver code” is ok. with some “driver code” until it happens to them. Team Penske drives more old school than these girls doing the complaining. And it a Ford, Team Penske and a young talent..and their panties are in a twist. Every one of them is a hypocrite…as it Logano invented the hold the line deal at Kansas. It is comical to see people getting sucked up into the propaganda .

  9. The only thing NASCAR could do right would be for Baby France to sell of NASCAR anyone that knew something about racing. Brian France wouldn’t make a pimple on his Granddaddy’s butt. All the manipulation of NASCAR has made it a joke. They are too busy trying to patronize the manufacturers, and sponsors, that they have lost perspective of the racing. Too much money involved to let the racers and teams really build their own race cars like it was in the old days.

  10. I find it fascinating the Neanderthals refuse to see the difference in Kansas and Sunday because it was the talented Logano. And as for this “driver code” BS, if there is one it is very selective..every one of these older clowns screaming at Logano for a racing deal at Kansas, should shut their lying hypocritical mouths and go take a trip down memory lane via YouTube. Shut up whiners, Nascar got this one right. And what is there not “consistent”? The last time this happened Jeff Gordon was the one who lost his mind, cost some large implications for Bowyer. He got fined, big woop. And for Dale Junior speaking about any of this is laughable. I do not believe for one minute the drivers in the garage want to race Dale hard the way Joey raced Matt, because if what happened at Kansas happened to the false idol, there would have been riots in the stands and the time the poor guy got back to Lake Norman, the poor saps house probably would have been burned down. And Junior slyly plays them all like a fiddle. Spoiled rotten 40 year man child and his insane cult followers.

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