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Up To Speed: Matt Kenseth Took It Too Far… And He Didn’t Have To

Depending on the circumstances in Homestead in a few weeks, Martinsville could turn out to be the most meaningful, impactful race of the season. Not only did Jeff Gordon advance to the championship race in his final season (after he hadn’t won a race all year), but championship favorite Joey Logano may very well miss the Chase championship after payback from Matt Kenseth.

And don’t tell me that it wasn’t intentional. Despite Kenseth’s “the splitter was dragging… it wouldn’t turn” comments following the wreck with Logano, it’s pretty safe to say that absolutely no one believes him. Especially since he followed that up with this comment:

“Well, like I said some days you get put in spots you don’t want to be in for sure. I would much rather be out there racing for a win than to be in that spot. I had two chances to win I think in the last three weeks and I got wrecked out of both of them going for the lead. One from him [Logano] and one from Brad [Keselowski] so that’s disappointing. We should have never been in that spot trying to limp that car around and get the finish.”

Kenseth never actually denied wrecking Logano on purpose.

Let’s be honest: Kenseth isn’t fooling anyone. This has been stewing since Kansas Speedway, where Logano spun Kenseth in the closing laps in the race and went on to win. That spin, combined with a poor result the next week at Talladega, eliminated Kenseth from championship contention. Despite the fact that Kenseth downplayed the need or want for any payback at the time, it’s now crystal clear he’s been waiting for the right moment the last few weeks.

Payback is nothing new in racing – NASCAR or otherwise – but watching a driver intentionally run another car right into the wall was admittedly a little gut-wrenching. Spinning a car while racing for the lead is one thing. Having a lapped car wait for the leader to pass and then intentionally shove him up into the wall – causing tremendous amounts of damage to both cars – is shocking behavior for Kenseth, a veteran of the sport who is usually an advocate for levelheaded racing.

Now, it is true that Kenseth had a car capable of winning and it was contact from Logano’s teammate Keselowski that caused Kenseth to be laps down in the first place. Yes, this was the third week in a row that contact from another car caused Kenseth to have a poor finish when he had an otherwise strong car. Yes, the issues with Logano, Kenseth, Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing are deep-seated and go back much further than the last few weeks.

Despite that… accelerating into another car, running them up the track, and not stopping until the car is plastered up against the wall is unacceptable. If Kenseth was attempting to pay Logano back for Kansas, he did that and then some. Is that really how the championship should be determined?

Despite its long history in the sport, payback – like talk – is cheap. (Not that spinning someone out to win a race isn’t cheap, too, but I digress.) Anyone can go out there and wreck someone (just ask Danica Patrick). It doesn’t really require any skill or talent, especially if you go out and wreck your own car in the process. It doesn’t prove anything.

With that in mind, it’s pretty clear that Kenseth was dead set on putting the fender to the back end of that No. 22 car at some point. There’s no changing that. Kenseth moved Logano out of the way while the two were racing for position earlier in that race and that apparently wasn’t good enough. No, Kenseth had to take it a step further.

Instead, here’s what Kenseth should have done. Rather than causing copious amounts of damage to both vehicles, the incident should have been a bit more subtle. As the No. 22 came around and attempted to pass the lapped No. 20 car, instead of running Logano up the track, Kenseth should have just held his line into the corner. Similar to what Logano did in Kansas, Kenseth should have driven straight into the corner and taken Logano’s line. When Logano went into the corner, the front of Kenseth’s car would have clipped the rear of Logano’s car, and the No. 22 car would have went right around.

Logano may not have hit the wall (or at least not as hard) and it wouldn’t have been as flashy. But it would have certainly ruined Logano’s chances at winning the same way it did Kenseth’s at Kansas. And when reporters come to Kenseth asking what happened, his response is simple.

“I think we both went for the same piece of real estate. We both went into that corner hard. I wanted to get position and get to the inside of him, and then he went for the same piece of real estate, as well.”

Sound familiar? That’s what Logano said in his post-race press conference after Kansas Speedway. Had Kenseth pulled something similar he could just play innocent. “Yeah, I got into him, but we were both going into the corner and, oh gosh golly gee, we got into each other. Oh well, that’s racing!”

Wrecking someone may not take a lot of skill, but doing it in a way that is subtle enough that it can be written off as potentially an accident is a little trickier; something a wily veteran like Kenseth could likely pull off. Oh, sure, no one would have believed it was an accident, but without irrefutable evidence, you can’t say for sure. Just ask Kevin Harvick about that last lap accident at Talladega.

NASCAR might have warned non-Chasers not to impact the championship and Kenseth may have gotten a stern talking to, but if there was enough doubt left on the table that Kenseth truly didn’t mean to spin Logano, what could NASCAR really do?

Instead, Kenseth is now likely to face some sort of penalty. NASCAR has warned drivers time and time again not to interfere with the championship. With Kenseth eliminated from Chase contention, he was considered a non-Chaser this weekend. A sticking point for NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell was that a lapped car wrecked a lead-lap car, another no-no. Kenseth pulled a double whammy and is now likely to face steep repercussions, despite an overwhelmingly supportive reaction from fans at Martinsville.

Of course, one could make that argument that Kenseth doesn’t really have much to lose anyway. But why risk a fine, points, or even a suspension by blatantly wrecking a guy and then denying it when he could have pulled the same thing in a way that would have left enough doubt that Kenseth may have gotten off with little more than a wrist slapping?

Maybe it was more satisfying for Kenseth to just straight run Logano into the wall. Perhaps the crunch of metal and the flying sparks were what he was looking for. Oh and watching the innocent crew members on each time have to fix severely damaged racecars surely added to the feeling of settling the score.

Now the only question remaining is whether or not this is over, and how much further NASCAR lets it go.

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51 thoughts on “Up To Speed: Matt Kenseth Took It Too Far… And He Didn’t Have To”

  1. The fans cheering does not validate anything, other than their own bloodlust and stupidity. I never understood it, but I do believe many of those imbalanced ticket holders are Junior Nation nuts and believe last week it was Logano and Logano only that took Junior’s chances away. I also believe that the old timers just cannot tolerate a young, confident driver winning and beating the older guys. Sick stuff to see. I am embarrassed to say I watch Nascar. To put a message out to all, it would be humbling and a wake up call to park Matt for the rest of the year.

    IT WAS RACE MANIPULATION PURE AND SIMPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Harry Hogge: Cole, you’re wandering all over the track!

      Cole Trickle: Yeah, well this son of a b*tch just slammed into me.

      Harry Hogge: No, no, he didn’t slam you, he didn’t bump you, he didn’t nudge you… he *rubbed* you. And rubbin, son, is racin’.

      • Oh please, from what I recall that was the worst movie one could have every made. The biggest cheesefest with the worst acting and overused quotes that have spawn a belief of stupidity and excuses.

      • Might want to check the vertical hold on your TV set . . . how do you block a car that’s laps down when you’re passing ’em

        BTW, Kenseth hit the gas so hard to tag Logano that it left scratch marks on the track (watch the video again)

        That’s not “racin'” it’s WWE chair-throwing. It’s not sport. It’s sports excrement.

        Only the ANTI-FORD bigots and the demolition derby “fans” are cheering this kind of “revenge.”

        • If the 22 were quicker than the 20 he would have cleared him before he came down on him.
          Must be the spotter’s fault?

    • More importantly, what is alleged super-Christian Joe Gibbs going to do? Kenseth is hardly setting forth a good “witness” for Gibbs’ “faith.”

      Apparently JGR forgets about the pesky ol’ Sermon on the Mount when they hit the track. . . .

  2. hhmmmmmmmmm….looking back a few seasons I recall one Jeff Gordon doing the same thing to Clint Bowyer and indeed very very intentional. So much so, that Bowyer ran down pit road on foot after him.

    Nascar says have at it, they say we cannot have drivers manipulate the outcome of a race, they say this and they say that.

    this went on back in the good old days as well, and don’t anyone of you say it didn’t. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

    And no I am not done with Nascar, it my have ridiculous championship formats and what not, but it’s still the greatest sport there will ever be!

    • The stakes have been whittled down to 3 race reset, all are equal and basically there is no making up those points., when in fact their 26 races were not equal. No you have Gordon with one win, and he is one of the final 4. No offence fans..but the system is flawed, as we well know. The story who will could be hoisting the trophy has potential in the history books to be a lie as to who really faired the best over the whole season. Not a 3 race reset, a vengeful unhinged driver manipulating the race and so it goes…it sucks. So in that respect it is a whole new world, and not a fair one too boot. The attention Nascar is getting for this is not good, but they believe like some do, any attention is good attention. I never brought into that. Reminds me of a very pretty girlfriend of mine that every Tom, Dick and Jerk would come on to her, the likes of which I wouldn’t even want them within 10 feet of me, but she felt it was better than “being alone”, how sad and utterly stupid. She has since learned life doesn’t have to be that way. And is much happier for it.

  3. Don’t mean to hog the comment page, but I remember Tony Stewart back a few seasons saying about Logano. his quote,”I’m gonna bust his ass”!

    and you know Kevin Harvick is tickled to death, probably saying now they’ll get off my ass

  4. And why is these two apples and orange situations held to the same standard as some sort of jsutifcation for what Matty girl did today? Again, from I sit it seems a lot of writers want to absolve Matt of his chicken sheet move and again put the blame back where it doesn’t belong. No excuse, no comparison.

  5. Kenseth should be PARKED for the REST OF THE SEASON! He is a F****ing idiot. To be clear, Logano didn’t do any damage to Kenseth’s car in Kansas, so to retaliate in that manner, is bull***t.

  6. No amount of handwringing and whining can dispute, wrecking is wrecking. Logano took out Kenseth, ruining his Chase, was smug about it, and BZF says it is “quintessential NASCAR”. Media were quick to defend Logano as “he was blocking….it was ok.” BZF just condoned “whatever means necessary”. Last week, Harvick intentionally wrecked Bayne to preserve his spot in the Chase. Some of media to NASCAR to task, but no one was calling for Harvick to be removed from the Chase. Once again….NASCAR condones it. No harm. Yesterday, after Brad ran out of talent and wrecked Kenseth, he had enough. Logano was paid back, and now you have all these writes b**ching and moaning about how this is across a self made imaginary line. Hypocrites.

    Wrecking is wrecking. Doesn’t matter who, when, what or why. Wrecking is wrecking. Same as Danica did to Gilliland, but then again no one is talking about the Princess today. Hypocrites.

    NASCAR made this bed with their “Chase” design a few years ago to create “Game 7 moments”. This is what you get, now it is time for them to lay in it. NASCAR is sports entertainment…it is no longer a legitimate sport with this “championship” structure.

    The same “media” that is b**ching and moaning is the same media that will replay the Kenseth/Logano incident, the same way they show Kenseth going after Keselowski at Charlotte. They will promote it over and over again. Hypocrites.

    • I agree with you fully. This has become a poor excuse for what I used to attend and enjoy. With double file restarts, GWC, and shenanigans to brake check exciting pit road to be an odd car on inside…. Well it has gotten tired. Go back to single file restart lap cars on the inside. 10 or less to go, single file. When you are better starting 7th on the inside instead of 2nd or 4th on outside, well, an imbalance. And the ‘chase’ race reset, single elimination, what a joke. So you can win every race all year, lose the last one, and loose the ‘championship’? Is that correct. This has really gotten pathetic as far as I am concerned.

  7. nascar has outgrown the tracks-it’s time to go to a smaller,lighter car with a 5 liter engine(or less). The rule makers (and france family) have turned this series into wwe.The punks now run the sport.Dale Senior would have gotten rid of the #22 and #2 long before Kenseth did.Junior does not get ‘gimmes’ in nascar but logano did piss of ‘the nation’. Remember this punk boys-what goes around comes around. I’m sorry such an iconic racer as Mr. Penske has two punk-ass bitches for drivers.

    • You mean the same “iconic Mr. Penske” who, along with Pat Patrick, started the demise of open wheel racing in the US after they got their Asses spanked in Formula 1?

  8. Aaron….hint … that was a movie…movie’s are not real….. Just trying to be helpful.

    The actual point is that it looked like Kenseth basically got a standing ovation for wrecking one of Nascar’s little darlings. The fact that Nascar will most likely come down hard on Kenseth and blesses the antics of their favorites probably is not a good thing for Nascar’s popularity.
    I know here in Nashville where they used to have Nascar in all the clubs they now have NFL on the screens instead…….BTW Nashville was one of the top cities for Nascar’s ratings.

    Right or wrong remember Nascar is just entertainment and in entertainment you give them what they want.

  9. Kenseth should be parked for the rest of the year. I guess his throttle jammed too. Logano can still advance if he wins a race. Who believes Kenseth wouldn’t do it again, maybe to the 2 car.

    It’s too bad Gordon won. I would have liked to see him win the title without a win and finish second to Jr. at Homestead, just to prove to Brian you don’t need wins to win the championship. But Brian has said he’d be okay with it but we still have the insane chase.

    Now we wait for Harvick and Kurt to win the next two races. Maybe Truex for the fourth combatant. I hope it isn’t the other Busch.

    Why does the scroll say “In the chase” and not “In the playoff?”

  10. Matt did what he needed to do and he executed it perfectly unlike Jeff with Clint in 2012 as no one else was involved.

    I can’t believe anyone that has watched NASCAR for awhile is actually surprised by what happened yesterday.

    • Not surprised, low brow and stupid. A lapper doing what he did, especially with this stupid format is actions detrimental to stock car racing. Revenge is a personal issue and has no place on the track with other competitors, Matt wrecked himself and Logano. He looked like a insane idiot, the lied on the TV about it. Great role model.

      • Matt just looked like a driver who wasn’t going to take Joeys crap. Hardly the first Cup champion to pay back someone in this manner.

        Gordon, Jarret, etc.

        • Matt was tired of taking Joey’s crap? Really? Let me ask you, what was your opinion about the race at Talladega in 2009, when Edwards blocked Keselowski and Keselowski “punished” him? I seem to recall a lot of people cheering Brad and damning anyone who blocks. Also, Brad said he wasn’t going to be pushed around. Hmmm. Joey stands up for himself. He was treated like garbage at Saint Gibbs Racing. He has been pushed around and everybody laughs at him, but when he takes a stand, he becomes so hated by fans and media clowns like Pockrasshole at ESPN and the idiots at FOX. Geez! Matt brought this all on himself. Oh wait! No! It was all Joey’s fault! Joey already had a win, so he should have been satisfied with finishing second at Kansas. After all, this has now become the National Association of Squeaky Clean Auto Racing! Here, I won’t push you as I already have a win, so I’ll let you win today. Then, last week, how dare he! He beat Junior at Talladega! That is a no-no! So now, Matt gets his shorts in a knot, and Saint Joe says, an eye for an eye (or, take him out because he took you out)! Give me a break!

          This happened at a great time. On Friday, I received my ticket renewals for the races I normally attend. Given the mentality of a lot of the people over this, I think I’ll join the Gordon fans who will be walking away from the sport, and spend my vacation money elsewhere.

          • To be quite honest, after the 2009 Edwards incident I was mostly mad at NASCAR. I wasnt thrilled with Brad either but he was put in that box after NASCAR took away Regan Smith’s win the previous race at Dega.

            Off topic, but it still seems its going to take fans getting killed until they get the message that fans shouldnt be sitting in the lower rows at plate tracks…

  11. Wow Summer, two honest articles in a row. I’m impressed (for what that’s worth).

    Yep, most of the comments here are pretty accurate. It was blatant, it affected the chase, and it belittles the sport. The line between sports and reality television (WWE) has been crossed.
    Personally I blame this elimination format. Under either of the pre-elimination formats both Kenseth and Harvick would still be digging for a championship and common sense/self preservation would have kept something like this from happening. But here we are now and as long as this format exists expect more of the same because it is impossible to officiate. So what if Matt gets penalized, it won’t give Joey his points back for the finish he could have gotten. Likewise, penalizing Harvick last week wouldn’t have given Jr another chance to win Talladega, the damage was done.
    This will only get worse until they get rid of this ridiculous elimination format. There are too many variables, too many teams competing at one time, too many $5 parts that can fail, and too many chances for contact that can end a day for this format to be considered fair by anyone.

    • wrecking and retaliation is as old as the sport is. if it belittles the sport it has been since the beginning.

      I wholeheartedly agree with the format being a huge reason why, but a driver getting revenge? been going on since someone put the bumper to another.

      • Matt didn’t take it too far. He put the period at the end of the sentence. If Logano were as bright as we think he is, he would realize things are now even and most likely done with. But, sadly, I don’t think Logano is that bright. He will get his pound and up the ante.

      • Well then, let’s just say the current format magnifies the significance of such acts exponentially and thus is detrimental to the sport being taken seriously over the long run.

  12. It’s apparently open season on Ford in NASCAR. Harvick does the PITT maneuver on Bayne’s Ford to save his Talladega position and stay in the Chase. Patrick wails on the #38 Ford at Martinsville after repeatedly saying she was going to do it on the radio. And for the WWE headliner, Kenseth actually accelerates into Logano’s race-leading Ford at Martinsville (after Kurt Busch had wrecked the 2 Ford), and then lies like a two-year old about it.

    If NASCAR doesn’t start handing out some suspensions for these intentional wrecks, will FORD take the gloves off and start having their drivers wreck some Chase Chevys and Toyotas? Or will they just roll over (as usual)?

    • NASCAR has had it in for Ford ever since Ford boycotted the series in 1966. When Chrysler boycotted in 1965, Bill Senior went after them and begged them to come back. He made Ford beg to come back when they boycotted. And when they did come back, Fords had trouble getting through tech inspections. The message was that no manufacturer was going to tell Bill Senior how to run his show. But France had strong ties to Chrysler. He bought the Plymouth that Johnny Mantz drove in the first Southern 500. Plus, he bought and entered two Plymouths in the first Talladega race in 1969. Too, any time Ford complained about the other manufacturers having an advantage, Bill Senior, and Bill Junior, would tell the Ford teams, if you don’t like it, switch brands. But, have a G.M. team, or, back in the day, a Chrysler team, complain, rules were changed. No bias there! Right now, I wish Ford would tell France the ignorant to shove his concocted “show” where the sun doesn’t shine. They did not take a bailout, and they don’t have anywhere near the recalls G.M. has. Let Toyota and Chevrolet play in “France’s Farce”. Ford doesn’t need this crap!

  13. If McMurray had beaten Gordon he would have needed to leave the track in a tank.

    The diva still hasn’t learned how to spin out a car. She needs to spend more time practicing and less time in a swim suit.

    • Complete and utterly different set of circumstance of what happened at Kansas and the crap that happened yesterday. Matt Kenseth needs a trip to the nut ward, imo. Brian Vickers with his acts if Vickerism has never shedded that name..People remember him for losing his mind a few times..maybe people will think going forward of Matt’s mental fragility and how Logano lived rent free in his head for a few weeks..and I think will continue to do so.

      • Sorry my post was for Dennis….but you bet Donnie..no doubt those cheers were from Junior fans last week thinking Logano robbed their God of a win at Dega. Matt avenged them. SMH. If Jamie Mac won and robbed Jeff of his swan song, Jamie Mac would have been Logano. How sweetly it all played out. I thought the Pope was still in the states with that post show yesterday.

  14. Joey was already locked-in to the finale at Homestead but still decided to take out the leader in Kansas. This was a poor judgement. Wrecking is wrecking. And payback is payback. That’s the way it has been in racing and the way it will always be.

    NASCAR privately is loving this. This is the box they put the “Chasers” into. And they are getting what they wanted to see. Hard racing. Hail Mary’s. Payback. And lots of hard feelings and controversy.

    • No, Joey was only locked into the Eliminator 8 Round at Kansas. He still has to earn a spot in the Final Four at one of the next two races to be locked in at Homestead. As for what happened at Kansas, Matt was blocking Joey for quite a while before Joey put the bumper to him and spun him. Joey has had the same thing done to him for blocking, so what is good for one is good for the other.

  15. I have to say that at least Joey owned up to the fact that he moved Matt out of the way. we all know that Kenseth wrecked Logano on purpose, but he doesn’t even have the cojones to man up to it. Yup, The Gibb’s team is a real class act.

  16. It is time for NASCAR to get this figured out. The R in NASCAR is for racing, not RECKING.

    Go back to Kansas and ask yourself this question. If Logano wants to be a champion, why is he afraid to race against the best? He would rather wreck a competitor than race him cleanly and go down to Homestead and have to beat the best.

  17. I feel bad for “Meely Mouthed” Matt’s wife, Katie, and his kids. With the lack of integrity and huevos he shows. Befitting a past “champion” of NASCAR. He has taken ALL that he has done in his career and made it nothing by his actions andnow will be known for this and his lack of man parts by not owning up to what he just did when asked after the race. What integriry does Gibbs portray by not suspending Kenseth themselves?

    • Everybody hanging the young kid in the Ford. But the last two weeks the terrible infants have been the over 40 past “Champions”.

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