What a Sunday it was at Martinsville Speedway. Future Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon won his 93rd career race and eighth time at the facility. Gordon, a four-time series champion, will have a chance to run for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in his final season. What can be a better story line than that?
Yet that’s not what people are talking about after the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. Instead people are talking about the late race incident between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano and the sad part is we all knew it was coming.
In the October 18, Hollywood Casino 400 Kenseth was leading and Logano was running second. They were racing hard in the closing stages of the event when the two drivers made contact. Kenseth thought Logano took him out on purpose as did the majority of the folks that witnessed the incident. The incident ruined the day for Kenseth and all but ruined his championship hopes. Kenseth finished in the 14th position but a win would have locked him into the Chase.
Kenseth, as expected, was not happy about the incident. His comments to NBC were “I can guarantee you that 22 car won’t win the championship.” In the days leading up to Sunday’s race at Martinsville, Kenseth made it clear he was going to do whatever it took to make sure that happened. Even during last weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, Kenseth hit Logano coming into to pit road. There was no doubt in anybody’s mind Kenseth was still annoyed with Logano.
I understand NASCAR is an emotional sport. Kenseth had a right to be upset with the incident. However, the way he handled it at Martinsville was wrong. You don’t intentionally wreck someone the way he did. However, this all could have been prevented if NASCAR acted like a governing body and nipped it in the bud after Kansas.
It’s like when a teacher hears a child talking about misbehaving. It is in the best interest of everyone to report the situation and if not at least talk to the child about the situation, even if the kid has always behaved himself. Kenseth has never been a guy to act upon something like that, but that doesn’t mean a stern talking to wasn’t warranted. NASCAR should have discussed the situation with Kenseth and tell him to be smart about the situation.
NASCAR was more within their rights to call Kenseth to the hauler and remind him who was boss and that there was a line that could be crossed. Instead, NASCAR CEO Brian France came out and defended what Joey Logano did on Sirius XM NASCAR radio the following day as well. There was no probation, no warning handed to Logano. All of this encouraged a reaction by Kenseth, which is what we saw Sunday.
A few years back NASCAR came out and told drivers “Have at It Boys.” NASCAR has encouraged fights and drivers wrecking someone in the past with little punishment. This is the kind of stuff that happens with little enforcement.
There’s no doubt Kenseth crossed the line with his reaction to Logano but Kenseth isn’t the only person who could have handled things different. NASCAR deserves some of the blame as well.