Today must be the day of retribution in motorsports. NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth just, ahem, returned the favor after Joey Logano spun him out of the lead at Kansas two weeks ago. Today at Martinsville, Kenseth put Logano straight into the wall.
Kenseth was already driving a heavily damaged car from an earlier incident on lap 434 where Brad Keselowski’s number 2 car spun Kenseth’s car into the number 41 car of Kurt Busch.
Later, Logano was attempting to lap Kenseth on lap 454 when Kenseth apparently decided to ruin Logano’s day. The incident brought about a red flag.
Kenseth originally blamed the accident on prior damage from the incident with Keselowski and Busch. He radioed over after the incident that he was okay, adding this explanation of why the accident occurred, as quoted by Motorsport.com:
Definitely my fault. I got into him. The right front was dragging down there and probably should’ve went to the garage area and went into the corner there and man couldn’t get it to turn and collected him.
Well, then. That’s a more than interesting “coincidence” that you just so happened to take out your on-track nemesis with you.
Both drivers were sent to the infield care center after the incident, as is the rule for any drivers who get out of their cars after a race crash. Neither driver approached the other after the incident, however, both drivers spoke with the media after their release:
Apparently, NASCAR did not buy Kenseth’s story that he couldn’t turn the car. Kenseth was immediately barred from continuing in today’s race even if his crew is able to put his car back together.
Additionally, Motorsport.com reports that Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, their crew chiefs, and owners of the number 20 and number 22 cars have been called to meet with NASCAR officials after the race.
Joey’s father Tom Logano had to be escorted away to the hauler to calm him down. Apparently Logano’s team had prepared a plan on what to do if Kenseth sought retribution during a race after Kenseth’s heated comments over the incident at Kansas.
Joey Logano’s crew rushed to prepare his car for work under the red flag. Because working on the car under a red flag nets them a penalty, the team opted to wait until the red flag period ended to start putting Logano’s car back together. Logano returned to the race with 4 laps to go, as the race was under caution.
Logano spinning out Kenseth likely cost Kenseth entry into the next round of the playoff-style Chase for the Sprint Cup. Instead of winning or finishing near the front, Kenseth finished much further down the field in 14th. Combined with poor finishes in the other two rounds of the Contender Round of the Chase, Kenseth was out for this penultimate round before the season finale.
Needless to say, Kenseth was fuming mad about this and swore several times that Logano needed to watch his back after the incident. It looks like he made good on this promise today.
Even though this fight was on the track, Logano was hit right where it hurts: his chances at the Chase for the Sprint Cup’s final four shoot-out are slimmer now that he had such a miserable outing at Martinsville. The four drivers that advance to the Chase’s final round at Homestead-Miami compete to determine who wins the season championship.
UPDATE: NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell addressed the media after speaking with Matt and his crew chief from Joe Gibbs Racing.
The fact that Kenseth was not battling Logano for position and was “many laps down” at the time of the incident will likely play a role in NASCAR’s decision. Any decision will most likely be made after Tuesday of this week once the series has time to consult additional parties on the incident.
Kenseth, however, has no more to say at this time.:
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