NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Up To Speed: Matt Kenseth Wouldn’t Have Spun Joey Logano

Who needs a “Game 7” moment? Kansas Speedway was only the fifth of 10 Chase races and arguably the most dramatic moment of the season has taken place. No one was surprised to see Joey Logano or Matt Kenseth at the front of the field at Kansas Speedway. Logano was the previous week’s winner at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Kenseth has been fast all season with five race victories (including two poles and one race win in the prior three weeks).

However, it was a bit surprising to see Logano spin Kenseth for the victory with just a handful of laps remaining in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Of course this was the sort of incident where everyone has an opinion. Either they were okay with Logano’s move because Kenseth had been blocking Logano throughout the race, or they’re upset about the move because it seemed like a blatant dump on Logano’s end.

I said on social media that I didn’t think Logano meant to spin Kenseth or “dump” him… he just didn’t do anything to avoid it. I maintain that standpoint even after Logano’s comments, even though Kenseth says that he thinks Logano “absolutely, 100%” wrecked him on purpose. If you weren’t able to catch what Logano had to say, here it is:

“It was just hard racing,” said Logano. “He raced me really hard.  I raced him the same way he raced me. It was a lot of fun out there racing for a win like that. The cars were very fast, equally paired and I couldn’t be more proud of what this Shell/Pennzoil team is doing right now. We’re such a fast racecar, such a great team. We’ve showed it two weeks in a row now and this is a lot of fun. We’ve just got to ride this wave and we’ve got to get to Homestead still.”

“We were just going for the same piece of real estate,” he said later, denying that the spin was intentional.

The reason I still believe him is because it seemed pretty obvious Logano wasn’t going to let off the gas to avoid making contact with Kenseth. He was going in for the kill and whatever happened, happened. That sounds awesome on paper, but resulted in the No. 20 of Kenseth going around in the exit of turn 2, handing the lead and eventual race win to Logano.

Kenseth was, obviously, very frustrated with the incident but responded in the same calm manner that is normally expected from him.

“It’s hard to drive a car with the rear tires off the ground,” Kenseth deadpanned after the race. “I was moving around the best I could, Joey [Logano] was a lot tighter, a lot faster on the short run, but we were so much better on the long run. I could still kind of get up to the top and get a run and get around him. We caught those two lapped cars, ‘Crazy’ (spotter) told me I was clear and I was, I pulled up in front of him and he just lifted my tires off the ground and he wrecked us.”

Kenseth maintained all week long leading into Kansas that, despite a rough weekend in Charlotte, he didn’t consider himself to be in a “must-win” situation for Kansas in order to advance to the Eliminator Round even with Talladega looming large. Now, however, I don’t think there is any question. Kenseth now finds himself 35 points out of the eighth position (the cutoff point for the next round). Kenseth could win at Talladega, but that track is a completely different animal than Kansas Speedway. Kansas is a track that usually shows one or two drivers dominate. Talladega is one where positions are changing hands almost constantly, and wrecks tend to be huge and unpredictable.

Clearly, Kansas had a huge impact on the Chase, considering that Kenseth was easily one of the favorites for the championship. Now he might not make it because of a slight tap from the bumper of the No. 22.

However, what made the incident a little more difficult to swallow was the fact that, had the situation been reversed, it’s hard to imagine Kenseth would have done the same thing. Kenseth will race you hard, but I don’t think any of his competitors would describe him as a “dirty” driver or an overly aggressive driver. I can’t think of too many incidents where he has intentionally wrecked another competitor (though there are a few), even when it might have been warranted. Sure, the argument can be made that Kenseth would have been aggravated with Logano had he been “fenced” (as Logano put it) twice while battling for the lead.

Watching the replay, though, Logano was right on Kenseth’s bumper heading into turn one all the way into the middle of the corner where the No. 20 finally spun. I have a really hard time picturing the same result when the numbers are reversed.

“I don’t know surprised, I’m really disappointed,” Kenseth continued about the incident. “I’ve probably been one of his (Joey Logano) biggest supporters. It was an awkward thing obviously taking his ride and I was excited for him when he started winning at Penske and when he got that ride and even found him today and congratulated him about racing against each other for a championship. I thought that I was very disappointed that he would do that, especially he was already in – didn’t run into him. Yeah, I was running the lane he wanted to run in, but my goodness isn’t this racing? Strategically I think it wasn’t the smartest move on his part. He’ll probably sleep good tonight, I hope he enjoys that one. It’s not what I would have done, but he had a decision to make and that’s the one he made.”

We heard a lot this week about potential paybacks between drivers based on some incidents that happened in Charlotte. Now, there will be some question as to whether or not Kenseth will pay Logano back for Kansas, especially if Kenseth fails to advance to the next round.

Honestly, I have to think that probably won’t be the case. Again, Kenseth just isn’t the type for payback and likely won’t want to interfere with the championship if Logano remains in contention until the end. But, again, that’s part of what made the situation feel… I don’t know… unfulfilled? Kenseth might have raced with more aggression than normal — partially because of the situation he was in — but that certainly doesn’t lend itself to a complete turnaround.

“That’s hard to say, you always race people like you’d like to be raced, that’s what I try to do until that changes and then you race them how they race you,” said Kenseth when he was asked how he would race Logano in future races. “I don’t know, that’s all hypothetical so I’m not going to worry about that. I’m just going to go onto Talladega and try to do what we can there and then after that we’ll go to the next one and do what we can there.”

I’m not even trying to say that Logano’s claims were unsubstantiated. Kenseth did block Logano on several occasions, especially in that final battle for the lead. I don’t love blocking either, but what exactly was he supposed to do? Just let him go? Give him room?

For the win, in a victory that would have propelled Kenseth onto the next round, no questions asked?

I don’t think so. Sorry, but that’s crap. Again, reverse the situation, and suddenly Logano is going to be blocking as if his life depends on it. He’s going to be blocking so much that, admittedly, yes it probably would have tested the patience of Kenseth (or whoever).

That’s kind of the point, though, isn’t it? If you throw a block, you risk getting wrecked, but that doesn’t mean the other driver bears no responsibility. And if you’re racing for the win, you certainly aren’t obligated to give the other person room. The battle between Kenseth and Kyle Busch in the Xfinity Series race the day before is proof enough of that, and Busch beat Kenseth by out-racing him, not by spinning him.

I enjoy a good race as much as anyone, but it feels a bit cheapened when one guys spins another out. It doesn’t really require any talent on the part of the other driver to do that. It’s much more exciting to see him work for it. Logano had a right to go for the position and Kenseth had the right to hold it. The difference is Logano didn’t try and stop the contact while you have to think that Kenseth would have.

Share this article

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

25 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Capt Spaulding

Evidently Summer would have followed the slot car racing “Jamcar” the whole time while racing her friends as a child.

Ken

I’m not defending Joey’s actions in any way, but, this was the product of hard racing and blocking. Kenseth blocked Joey just prior to the major contact and Joey bounced off the wall. Then came the major contact. It looked like Kenseth slowed ever so slightly first to go around the #98, then he got close to the #23. It also looked like Kenseth moved up in front of Joey! Anyway, this is what happens when one driver tries to block another. And as Summer said, what was Kenseth supposed to do? Just move over and let him go? Matt was fully within his right to block Joey, and I will defend that right. However, there are consequences to blocking, just ask Carl Edwards about Talladega in 2009. Could Joey have backed off? Sure! But, with five laps to go, and when fighting for the lead, courtesy goes out the window. And I don’t believe Kenseth would not have spun Joey if the roles were reversed, though he would not have done it deliberately.

As for Joey, watch the hate come out tomorrow!

kb

Actually, I expected the Logano hate, he gets blamed for a heart attack in San Diego when he is in Chicago..but anywhoo I digress. Scanning the comments sections around the internet for articles posted, I am shocked to see most are very much on the side of Logano and blamed Matt for his own demise. I saw it with my own eyes. Most agree it was a racing deal, and do not blame Logano at all.

kb

Yeah, Matt is such an angel! He has~~~~~NEVER~~~~~~~~~~~done that before……EVER! Lol. Matt because he is a older “nice guy” has gotten a huge pass regarding criticism of his moves and their has been plenty. It is always downplayed quickly or not talked or written about. But keep blocking like that, it’s what happens. It’s called racing. Nobody was right or wrong, they both did what they had to do, and this time it didn’t work out so well for Matt. I think Brian Vickers (off the top of my head) might disagree with the Saint Matt routine. It seems to me Matt was the architect of his misery and I do not believe for one minute Logano wrecked him on purpose, not one minute. Guess Summer is a big fan of Matt’s. I am sure nobody wanted to see it or have it happen, I know I didn’t but at those speeds and less then seconds to think, stuff happens.

kb

And I do believe Logano understands the value of a block done correctly. Blocking is part of racing, to think it isn’t is foolish. I also believe he realizes the implications of what happens when the driver behind gets impatient. He was the recipient this year of a bump and spin by Harvick. Logano clearly stated post race, it was a racing deal and he understood why Harvick did I and admitted to obvious blocking. So he is not talking out of his you know what regarding this incident. Maybe he was tired of 3 times in a short period of times with Saint Matt, who knows. Racing deal.

Dennis

Really, tears from the 20 crew? The 22 was faster. You block once, ok twice, ok But eventually if you don’t get out of the way YOU get run over.

kb

He seemed to play screw around games more than with just Logano this race. But it’s Matt, so he get’s a pass from his older fanboys….lol.

Bill B

Sounds like someone has a strong bias towards Kenseth. For the record I am not a fan of either Kenseth or Logano, however if I were forced to wear a t-shrit for one or the other I would probably choose Kenseth.

With that said, I seem to remember a time when Kenseth spun Gordon at the end of a race in an eerily similar situation. Of course that was at Bristol (2006 spring race) where such actions are more acceptable than at a 1.5 miler. I’m just pointing out that Matt isn’t above doing that kind of tactic so playing the “Matt wouldn’t do that” card is totally wrong.

I hate blocking though so if someone wants to use that tactic to keep a faster car behind them then I am fine with them getting what they get. I guess since I am a fan of neither driver, I wish they both would have ended up spinning.

janice

just think, they can block all they want next weekend….net result will more than likely be “the big one”.

spot1

Guess here’s where I like the dirt racing rules better. Kenseth would have to go to the pack of the pack as he brought out the yellow flag. Logano also would have to go to the back because he spun Kenseth. He’d have a choice between going to the back or going to the pits and staying there.

russ

A voice in the wilderness I know, but I think blocking is BS, so is spinning a guy/gal on purpose. Ok to make a move to whatever lane you want, but then thats it. If the guy can get by you so be it.
Think perhaps this king of stuff, which was acceptable when it was just a regional sport, could be part of Nascar’s problem today? A tiny part but a part nevertheless.

Ricky

If Joey was leading and blocking and Matt the blockee he would be crazy not to use the same approach Joey used.He could use the excuse I didn’t mean to spin him “just rattle his cage”I have been watching Nascar since its inception and there will always be bumper tactics especially near the end of the race. If you have to block expect the consequences. Matt moved Joey up the track and into a scrape against the wall.When has that move never resulted in some retaliation? Maybe in Indy cars or Formula 1 but not in stock cars. Joey for sure can expect some pay back but I suspect not from Matt but one of his team mates.One must maintain his Mr. Clean image

salb

Basically, Logano did to Kenseth what Edwards did to Earnhardt last week.

brokenarrow

I don’t know what Saint Matt would have done if he had had a faster car and was being blocked by Logano. I do know that Saint Matt gets a pass from the media and some fans because he is good at pretending niceness, even smiling though his most sarcastic comments.

But props to Summer on being the only FS writer who would dare to mention Kyle Busch’s clean pass on Kenseth in Saturday’s race. However, the circumstances were quite different with the two drivers racing only for bragging rights and even Kyle realizing that taking out a teammate in an NXS race would be really bad form.

kb

And Summer saying what happened in the Xfinity race should happen in all races. Apples and oranges. Silly Summer. Matt love has got her head all bent up.

DoninAjax

I wonder what Joe Gibbs thinks about Logano now.

kb

Lovin’ him still!!!!

Chris in TX

Blocking comes with a bunch of assumed risk. Especially when it is cramming someone up near or into the wall. Each time you block, you assume *more* risk. The fact that Logano didn’t force the issue sooner was actually pretty good restraint on his part, I thought.

The whole idea that Kenseth would not have eventually just “let someone block” off of his front bumper is either selective amnesia, or semi-troll-y click-bait. I say this, since Kenseth has dumped people for position before. (Gordon, Chicago, for one). With somewhat less provocation.

Earner

Blocked him once ,then another & on strike three your outta here..Nothing intentional Joey just didn’t backed off(nor should he have its for the win he’s faster & being blocked up & down)…I like Matt but he made his own bed here maybe in fantasy land some one would think Matt would’nt have done but in his situation I seriously think he would have…No harm or foul here at all …Matt knew the risks (Again 3 blocks & ya gotta expect to get moved)
Best to all

Knobbert Blindlock

“Im not even trying to say that Logano’s claims were unsubstantiated. Kensethdid block Logano on several occasions, especially in that final battle for the lead. I don’t love blocking either, but what exactly was he supposed to do? Just let him go? Give him room?”

Sounds like you are suggesting that Logano should have let Kenseth go and give him room.

You can’t have it both ways, something has to give. And it did.

Race On!

Earner

“what was he supposed to do”…How about drive faster or keep blocking & hang on or let him go by…Logano may have been faster but passing is another matter & there are techniques that may have made that difficult … Side drafts-pinching down-etc may have been options & most of those probably have him finishing 2nd..Best to all

Ken

OK, I was wrong! Yes, there are a number of comments condemning Joey for the outcome, but, I am surprized at the substantial number who basically said what it was, two drivers racing hard. And as I said earlier, Kenseth had the right to block all he wanted. But, with the privilege of blocking comes the realization that there will be consequences. And Matt suffered the consequence of contact from Joey and spinning. Too, Matt only spun and lost positions. He wasn’t wrecked! He was still able to continue. Big difference!

There is one thing though that I just thought of. There was at least one time Matt blocked Joey and Joey hit the wall. I think the one wall smack happened the lap before. What would everyone have said if that wall smack by Logano would have lead to Logano wrecking? That says something about who had the better car control!

kb

nah, the lovers of the 43 year old don’t want to hear it. Joey is just a disprectful punk. SMH.

Steve

Wait! Something is wrong. We are actually talking about the racing on the track this week? Call Brian France. We need to fix this ;-)

Regarding the incident, I see it the way most fans did. Logano did not purposely punt Kenseth but he also didn’t give in when Kenseth tried to block. He held his ground and let the chips fall where they may. He ended up on the better end of it and potentially kept a championship threat from winning the race. One has to ask, if Logano backed off, Kenseth won the race, and then eventually ended up winning the championship as a result, how would Logano feel. My guess is he was thinking that very thing at that moment. I don’t blame Kenseth for blocking as he needed the win, but I also don’t blame Logano for holding his ground.

Now lets get back to more important things like chase points, the championship and how do we get Jr into the next round.

Col

Both drivers did what they had to do. But only one got spun out and lost positions.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com

Frontstretch