Kenseth appealing 2-race suspension by NASCAR
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Matt Kenseth is appealing his two-race suspension Thursday, but NASCAR apparently will contend he altered the outcome of a race by intentionally wrecking Joey Logano.
Kenseth delivered payback after being spun by Logano three races ago. On Sunday, he deliberately crashed into Logano, who was leading at Martinsville Speedway. Logano likely was going to win and earn an automatic berth in the final four of NASCAR’s playoffs.
Kenseth’s was suspended Tuesday while Danica Patrick was fined $50,000 for wrecking another driver in retaliation.
NASCAR chairman Brian France told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that Kenseth was harshly punished because penalties needed to be increased to deter any driver from doing the same thing. France referenced a 2013 cheating scandal at Richmond, where Michael Waltrip Racing manipulated a series of events to ensure its driver made the playoffs.
France warned the entire industry after the Richmond scandal that manipulating races would not be tolerated, and he indicated what Kenseth did at Martinsville fit that category. That’s why Kenseth’s penalty was much stiffer than the one given Patrick.
“They’re similar in many ways but they are very different because of the stakes that were on the line with the Chase,” France said. “Going back to Richmond, we’ve been very clear when anybody in the industry, any driver or participant intentionally tries to alter the outcome of events or championships, that crosses a different line than a racing problem between two drivers. So obviously the significance of what was on the line had to be taken into consideration.”
Kenseth was eliminated from the playoffs two races ago, in part because Logano spun him while the two raced for a win at Kansas last month. Kenseth has been fuming ever since, and most everyone expected some form of retribution.
It came after Kenseth was wrecked Sunday while racing Team Penske drivers Logano and Brad Keselowski. The teammates had been working together to their advantage on restarts, and Kenseth and Keselowski made contact that sent both cars to the garage.
Kenseth then returned to the track in a wrecked car, down 10 laps, and drove Logano’s car into the wall as Logano tried to lap him.
Instead of winning the race and earning a spot in the championship finale, Logano is now last in the eight-driver field.
That can’t be tolerated, France said, and that’s why the suspension is one of the stiffest in NASCAR history in dealing with on-track matters.
“I know there’s a lot of discussion about consistency in our penalties and there should be and that’s part of the equation,” France said. “We issue penalties for two reasons: We’ve got to punish you for what we think you’ve done wrong, and we have to make sure that we deter somebody else from doing exactly what you did or worse.
“That’s why we can’t be consistent with every single penalty because sometimes we’ve got to up the ante with a penalty because we don’t believe the current remedy is a deterrent.”