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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Friday Faceoff: Did NASCAR Make the Right Call?

Did NASCAR make the right call with a two-race suspension levied against Matt Kenseth after Kenseth intentionally wrecked Joey Logano at Martinsville? Who or why not?

Amy Henderson, Senior Editor: Buckle up, Buttercup, and welcome to the new Chase. Thanks to the format, NASCAR had little choice but to come down heavily because of the team implications in this Chase format. NASCAR made the right call given the circumstances. Kenseth’s move was cheap, but do I think it would have been heavily penalized under a full-season format? No way. Under this one? Absolutely had to happen before things got out of hand.

Mark Howell, Senior Writer: Kenseth is a victim of NASCAR’s own misguided marketing rhetoric. Don’t suggest that the “boys have at it” if you actually frown upon the practice and just how such on-track justice is doled out. The topic has (and will be) argued for months to come, but the precedent set by NASCAR has pushed conflict past common sense. We’ve seen retaliation, in one form or another, for the past few years, yet we’ve never seen such an example being made of one driver (who, by the way, seemed justified in his actions). While the cause for Kenseth’s actions is being ignored, NASCAR’s own mantra is being touted as the Gospel of Brian. I believe NASCAR realizes it made an error here (et tu, Danica Patrick), but to reverse its own call would embarrass the sport even more.

Zach Catanzareti, Contributor: I strongly believe the decision kept the integrity and credibility of the sport. That kind of stuff belongs at the madhouse of Bowman Gray and not on the top level of stock car racing in the world. On the subject of those complaining it was too harsh, I am very certain if NASCAR did nothing at all – which fans apparently were asking for – they would be still complaining, this time even more about the sport becoming a Wild Wild West with the sport allowing such acts to occur. Someone like Denny Hamlin seemed to change his stance on it, which makes me wonder. And on the Patrick incident, I think she shouldn’t have received any penalty. That was just a typical in-race incident of payback. It had no championship-fixing intent and was not targeted for weeks while the driver was out leading the race. We’ve seen it time and time again – including last year at Martinsville with Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers wrecking each other three times. I do not want to lose that aspect of drivers banging others during the race because they feel they were wronged earlier.

Defending CWTS champion Matt Crafton won the Kroger 200 at Martinsville. Just 10 points out of the championship lead, was the win a statement from Crafton, and can he win three in a row?

Howell: If anyone can win three races in a row, it’s Logano…. oops! I mean Crafton. Crafton has momentum on his side as the schedule draws to a close. It seems like good timing and a good opportunity for Matt to repeat as the CWTS champion.

Catanzareti: He’s been a big contender all year. I can see that as a statement win as we head to one of his better 1.5-mile tracks of Texas. If Erik Jones is in the No. 20 Cup seat, I believe that adds enough additional pressure for Jones that Crafton’s veteran experience will pounce and surely win a third crown.

Henderson: I say yes on both counts. Crafton is a very talented driver with experience on his side. He keeps his nose clean and makes few enemies. He’s also been in title races before and knows how to handle himself. He’ll have to race hard to make up a little ground, but he’s absolutely capable.

Jeff Gordon won for the 93rd time in his legendary career last week at Martinsville. As Gordon steps away from the sport, how will fans remember him, and what legacy does he leave behind?

Catanzareti: I believe every race fan, media member, crew member and so on will have their own little slice of memories from Gordon. What I think will stand out most was his attitude toward helping others with the Jeff Gordon Foundation and how much he has brought NASCAR into modern times, bringing the sport from farmers and southerners to iPod-playing Californians.

Henderson: I’ve seen Gordon earn the respect of fans over the years, including many who once had the “anyone but Gordon” mindset in the 1990s. The crowd reaction to his win Sunday was phenomenal to experience; many stayed right where the were for a very long time afterward, cheering for a legend of the sport. I think that about says it all about Gordon, who will leave behind one of the finest careers ever seen in NASCAR, and the one who spans the gap between the old days and today. And while it’s by far not his greatest accomplishment (those came on track), he’s also a championship car owner.  Not a bad career, all in all.

Howell: Gordon’s legacy will be his ability to push NASCAR firmly into the realm of recognized, mainstream professional sports. His youthful charm and good looks attracted girls and women toward NASCAR Nation (as in my then-10-year-old niece who’s still a Gordon fan today), and his comfort with the media made him perhaps our sport’s greatest spokesman. Gordon helped NASCAR grow both on, as well as off, the track.

With NASCAR’s ruling on Kenseth, will his rivalry with Logano continue to fester, or will the pair move on with a clean slate in 2016?

Henderson: I think it’s over for now; the stakes are simply too high. Could old wounds be reopened next season? Absolutely. If the two get together, even if it’s just a product of racing, there could be enough sparks to reignite the fireworks. That’s not a given, because NASCAR and their sponsors will be watching closely, but it won’t take much to set them off if one feels wronged by the other again.

Howell: Both Kenseth and Logano should have their hands full with the new low-downforce package come 2016. While it’s unlikely they won’t sit down for coffee and quiet conversation, it’s also unlikely that they’ll continue their current feud. Time heals all wounds (and straightens all caved-in fenders).

Catanzareti: Boy, I hope Kenseth can let it go. I feel confident the dust has cleared and that Logano will continue with his same attitude that I personally enjoy. He’ll go out there and fight toward Homestead and hopefully will reach out to Kenseth to settle this whole mess.

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Billy Winslow

MAYBE NASCAR NEEDS A GAY DRIVER.
NASCAR needs the press. Whether it is good press or bad press, it needs media attention. Tried and true fans are leaving by the hauler-load. The sport is boring, contrived and puts forth the likes of Waltrip and MacReynolds as the TV mouthpieces who try to convince the fan how exciting every tire change is. The ship has sailed, NASCAR is left on the dock. Take it back to what it was and be thankful the stands arent completely empty. Getting rid of top management would be a good place to start. The sport can now boast that it has 2 women driving 3? Hispanics and 1 Afro-American but still no gays. All that testosterone and still no gay NASCAR players. Hmmmmm?

Bill B

How do you know there already isn’t one?

GinaV24

Exactly!

Sue

thinking the same thing. I do believe that there was one gay driver, but he has moved into other things.

Bill B

You bet this deal between Kenseth and Logano will linger for the rest of their careers, especially on the Kenseth side. Fortunately for Joey it will only be another 5 years because I don’t see Matt racing much longer than that. I don’t think we will see any blatant wrecking again but the animosity will linger just under the skin.

Tim Krantz

Both wrecks were designed to eliminate a driver from advancing. Joey Bologna has had the ire of many NASCAR drivers with his antics. Just another case a driver being too young when handed a championship ride. For Gods sake Joeys DAD was even gonna fight in the place of Joey.

GinaV24

Personally I think NASCAR got it wrong because they designed exactly this sort of conflict with this crapshoot format, they have continued to encourage it, condone it and even applaud it (ala BZF’s words about it being quintessential NASCAR) and now they choose to punish it.

Neither Logano or Kenseth are drivers I support so this has nothing to do with liking or disliking either one of them. It simply bothers me because NASCAR will now promote the heck out of what happened, just as they did last year when Gordon/Kez had their fight. NASCAR wants to have it both ways so they have said boy’s have at it, but now are saying well but that’s not what we meant.

Total hypocrisy on the part of the sanctioning body.

I doubt that either of them will forget it.

Gordon has had a great career, I’ve been a fan of his for a long time and watching him celebrate that win at Martinsville was great.

David Green

I deleted the nascar app from my phone and I will no longer watch their races as I believe that to the best of their ability the nascar leadership is running the series like fake wrestling and I won’t watch that either.

Gary

deleted my app too. I’ll only watch the PHX race bec I happened to have a ticket and will be in town visiting family

Mike

Let’s not impugn pro wrestling. They make no pretense to the “realness”. And their divas are way hotter…

Gary

The only way Nascar can make me feel better about suspending Kenseth would to suspend Hardick for Talladega fiasco. It’s called consistency. Per Brian France … he doesn’t want the drivers manipulating what happens in the Chase. So what the heck do you call Talladega. F*cking idiots.

Bill B

Agreed 100%.

Love the “accidental” misspelling. I may start using that whenever I use his name. Good one!

Bill B

Just used it on another website’s comment. :)

Gary

glad you like it

DoninAjax

A while back I wrote Hendick “accidentally”.

GinaV24

I like it, too but was it really accidental? :)

Carl D.

I say Nascar made the right call here. Yes, they have been inconsistent, but that doesn’t excuse Matt’s conduct. Maybe they should have suspended a few other drivers in the past, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do the right thing this time.

I am defending Nascar. Hell has frozen over.

Larry

Folks, I’m sorry but how in the world can you say that it was OK for Logano to wreck Kenseth at Kansas yet when Matt retaliates they throw the book at him? We wouldn’t even be talking about this if not for Logano wrecking Matt at Kansas. And, don’t give me this bull about Logano not wrecking Matt and he just spun him out. Matt was just lucky that he didn’t hit the wall or even get hit by other drivers behind him. Go back and watch the spin out and see the other drivers that were behind him. Now, if this wasn’t the chase I guess you could call this a racing deal at Kansas. But, since this is the chase and if you get wrecked by another driver you are pretty much out of it the rules cannot be the same. And, what makes Joey wrecking Matt even worse is the fact that Joey was already in the chase and the fact that Matt needed the win to advance in the chase. Did Nascar not caution chase drivers about wrecking other chase drivers affecting their chance to advance? And, Brian France arguments about why he penalized Matt can certainly be used at Kansas as well. In fact, the safety reason that Brian noted applies far more to a superspeedway than a short track like Martinsville. Speeds at Kansas or probably twice as much as Martinsville so that safety theory is shot to h*ll right there. And, Brian’s reason that Matt was laps down and not a chase driver is true. But, the very reason that Matt wasn’t a Chase driver is because Joey took him out at Kansas. Sorry boys and girls. No way you can justify Matt’s Penalty and not justify Joey getting a penalty. And, while I’m at it, let me chime in on this chase. This chase is a huge problem because things like what happened between Joey and Matt can determined the championship. So, evidently all you have to do is wreck someone like Joey did Matt and take them out of the chase and eliminate your competition according to how Nascar ruled on this event. In my opinion, the old championship format is far more fairer than this chase format where you base the championship on ten races. Heck, with this chase you now have a driver in 2nd place who missed eleven races who could win the season championship. Kyle has missed more races than is in the entire chase format. How in the world can nascar justify Kyle winning a championship under these circumstances. Someone please explain to me why I am wrong in my comments.

Larry

And, by the way I am not a fan of either Matt or Joey.

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