Tag Archives: 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 BehindPitRow.com.

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

All Respect for Matt Kenseth has Been Lost

A few weeks ago NASCAR drivers Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano were racing for the win at Kansas Speedway. Matt Kenseth blocked the faster Logano and Logano charged to move him out of the way and win the race. This is the type of racing fans want and NASCAR wants for the fans. In a way this is the ultimate NASCAR; the faster car racing the slower car at the end of a race for the win.

Fast forward a couple weeks. Matt Kenseth races hard at Martinsville Speedway even though he is now out of the hunt for the Sprint Cup Championship; not directly from the events at Kansas but Kansas didn’t help. He is having a great day at arguably one of the toughest tracks in NASCAR. He races to the front along with Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski.

In spite of this being the “Knock out Chase” with both Penske teammates in it. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski were working together. Logano took the outside line on the restarts expecting Keselowski who restarted in second to let him in in the front. They did just that; the ultimate teammate play. In a way not teammates have every worked that hard together in such a critical race.

I got hit from behind and pushed me into the 20 and my right-front wheel hit Kenseth’s left-rear and it just broke the right-front suspension off the car.”  Keselowski added, “The car wouldn’t turn and just kept going straight until I couldn’t do anything and I started wrecking everybody.  I just didn’t have any steering wheel left.

After that Matt Kenseth had had enough!  When he got back on the track and was laps down after Logano, who was the race leader passed him, Kenseth drove in deep and got into the left rear corner of Logano and drove him into the corner, ending his day and possibly his Championship contention.

I love NASCAR, I love payback but there is a fine line where payback becomes bad sportsmanship. This was that pure and simple. There is a difference between making it difficult for a competitor and driving them into the wall.

Yeah.  I think what happened at Kansas is a completely different deal.  We were racing for the win and he blocks you a few times and then we raced hard and he blocked me the last time and we spun out.  That’s what happened there.”  Logano added, “Here it was just a complete coward move, especially for a championship race car driver and race team.  Just a complete coward.  I don’t have anything else to say. It’s a chicken-you-know-what move to completely take out the leader when your race is over.

I could leave it at that but Matt Kenseth didn’t own up to it. Whether you like it or not respect can also come from owning up to what happened. He didn’t, he put a spin on it.

Kenseth said, “Well it’s a really disappointing day. I thought we were going to have a shot at the win there and they were jacking up the restart real bad to let each other in as teammates which is fine and I probably went in there and I got on the other side of Joey (Logano) and I was going to try to race him for the win and Brad (Keselowski) wiped me out for some reason. I’m not really sure why. And then we had so much damage on the right front I should have probably just put it in the garage and just got into (turn) 1 and couldn’t get it to turn and ran Joey over. So, disappointing ending for sure.

Make no mistake about it. Joey Logano has taken it to them. He has won the last three races, qualified on the pole for this race, led the most laps and was on the way to win a record breaking four races in a row. Matt Kenseth made no friends here. The only thing he can feel good about is putting Jeff Gordon into contention for the Championship at Homestead Miami in three weeks.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 313897 Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images

 

Joey Logano has come into his own and is on his way to a Championship

Last week Joey Logano won at Charlotte Motor Speedway to solidify his spot in the NASCAR Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He didn’t stop there. He went on to win at Kansas Speedway in order to keep any other competitor from locking himself into that next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Logano’s trip is not without controversy. In the final laps he was in second place to Matt Kenseth. Kenseth was doing all he could do to keep the faster Logano behind. He took his line up high and then took the low line when he moved down. Joey Logano did what Kenseth did in order to protect his position on the track. Unfortunately, Kenseth was spun out and finished 14th.

There wasn’t too many seasons ago when Logano wouldn’t have done that. Not that he did anything wrong. Kenseth was blocking. Blocking like Tony Stewart bitches about but does the same. Now that I said that, I can also say I don’t blame Matt Kenseth one bit. That is how it’s done, and to some extent Joey Logano learned it and dealt with it.

Roger Penske said, “I saw a couple times Joey got squeezed off of two and I think over in three, and as they went down into one Joey had a fender up inside.  He was on the outside of the 20 and he got in the wall.  I don’t know if you saw that or not, and then he turned down, Joey did, to take the lower lane and there was another car up there – I think a slower car – and then Kenseth came down.  Unfortunately, they got together.  I don’t like to see that any more than anybody else does.  It’s one of those racing accidents.  It’s real tough when it’s in this kind of a situation, but there was no question that Kenseth was doing everything he could to keep Joey from going by.

Joey Logano said, “Yeah, it’s hard racing.  With 15 to go I got to the outside of him down the backstretch, and I had to lift not to wreck both of us at that point, and then kind of got put in the same situation down the front stretch, and then we just happened to go in the same corner and we both went for the same piece of real estate.  I wanted that middle lane and so did he, and we collided there.  So good hard racing, you know.  We ran each other hard.  He ran me hard, I ran him hard back.  That’s just the type of driver I am, the type of racer I’m going to be, and it just comes to that point sometimes to — it’s unfortunate that those things happen, you know, and it’s just hard to — it doesn’t take anything away from our win today.”

This is racing, racing that NASCAR has given us via the Chase, and I love it. We not only have actually racing for a Championship late in the season but we have defensive racing in order to keep a competitor from making a Championship run. Joey Logano has now taken it to an even higher level in the second year of this knock out format of the Chase. He won two races in a round keeping others from guaranteeing themselves a spot in the next round.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 313485 Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Kevin Harvick the Legend

Kevin Harvick led the whole regular season, the clear winner for the NASCAR Championship. Harvick won the regular season by 30 points over Joey Logano. He took that confidence with him into the Chase.

In the opening media event prior to the Chase, Kevin Harvick called out the Joe Gibbs Racing teams who had been his only apparent competition the last few races before the Chase. “I think we’re going to pound them into the ground,” Harvick said. “That’s what I think. Hopefully, they can beat themselves.

It didn’t happen that way. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin won at Chicagoland Speedway, the first race of the Chase after Harvick raced his fellow Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson too hard and cut a tire to fall way back on his bid to repeat as Champion.

The next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Harvick was again racing at the front to continue his effort to a second Championship only to run out of fuel at the end of the race. Matt Kenseth, another Joe Gibbs Racing driver capitalized on this to move himself into the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. At this point it was apparent that Kevin Harvick would be plagued by his words to open the Championship. He also was in a very deep hole in points putting himself in a must win position at Dover International Speedway, a track he has never won at before and one he has not done well at.

There was other wisdom that Harvick uttered prior to Chicagoland that, he is glad held no truth. Harvick said about the Joe Gibbs teams, “Well, you can’t be good once every three weeks.  You got to be good for 10 weeks.  I know those guys have run fast.  It’s been a different Gibbs car that we’ve raced against for the last 10 weeks.  As a company, they’ve had some good success in winning races, but it hasn’t been the same car.

Well Kevin Harvick has done exactly what he said wouldn’t work. He has run good once every three weeks and has won at Dover to move himself up into the Contender round of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Above all else Kevin Harvick has created a legend, one of a fierce competitor who never lets circumstances change his demeanor and approach to the task at hand. He used to be called the closer or “where did he come from” at the end of races. Now he will be called that about finishing championships. How else can one, who has never won at a track, step it up to seemingly do the impossible to stay alive in order to win a championship?

“Oh yeah. Anytime you can go through moments like this and gain some momentum and prove to yourself that you can do things like this, there’s no way you can’t be stronger. I’m just do proud of those guys and so proud of our fans and everybody for all their support all week.” Harvick added, “There it is, stay the course. That’s what he (Tony Stewart) always says. Tony is just one of those guys who always puts everybody before him and that’s really what makes Stewart-Haas what it is. It’s just a lot of fun to be a part of this team.”

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing

From Junk to Gold, Denny Hamlin Wins the Chase Race at Chicagoland

The first NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup race is in the record books. Denny Hamlin has won the myAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway capping off a weekend that didn’t start out the way it was intended.

On Friday, the number eleven FedEx Ground Toyota hit the track for the first practice full of hope but unable to get out of its own way. Dave Rogers, Hamlin’s crew chief, made wholesale changes to the car prior to qualifying. Qualifying was canceled due to rain and his troubles in that one practice were magnified because the field was set by practice speeds. Denny Hamlin would have to start the race today 29th, the last of the Chase drivers.

Rogers said, “We did have a lot of adversity.  You know in the Chase you’re going to have adversity, it’s going to strike.  We’ve been talking about it, been trying to mentally prepare for it.

In Saturday’s practices it was apparent that the team was able to fix whatever was wrong with the No. 11. Hamlin was the second fastest in the first practice and seventh fastest in the final practice. A great improvement but he still had his less than desirable starting position to contend with.

Indeed, his starting position became a problem right from the start. On lap two, the No. 47 AJ Allmendinger car got into the right front of Hamlin’s car, sending him for a spin. He was able to save it and not get hit by any other cars so there was little or no damage. He did go a lap down.

On lap 130 just after a restart on lap 128, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin used strategy to try and get their laps back by staying out and not pitting. This was a risky strategy given the lack of caution flags in the beginning of the race and record pace the leaders had been setting. That strategy paid off on lap 137 when Kevin Harvick hit the wall hard after cutting down a tire; this put both of them on the same pit strategy and tires with the other lead lap cars.

There was a caution flag with ten laps to go and Hamlin’s team had confusion whether to pit or not. He ended up staying out, what at the time looked like a disastrous move. Denny Hamlin restarted third and drove it like he stole it taking Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon three wide. It stuck and he held them off for the three laps even though he had older tires.

It was ballsy, but I’d been stuck so many times three-wide in the middle. The front cars almost have a disadvantage to the back cars the way it all plays out.”  Hamlin added “We got a great restart and I just held it wide open through (turns) one and two and it stuck. We were able to get in that clean air and take off.

Denny Hamlin has tied Chicago Area Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen for 27th on the all-time wins list with 26 wins.

Carl Edwards finished second followed by Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth.

Denny Hamlin has now punched his ticket straight to the next round of the Chase, The Contender Round. The team can now use the next two races to continue to get better for the next two rounds.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 312813 Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images