This rivalry just won’t die.
Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano once again left the race perturbed, annoyed and overall exasperated with one another after a long day in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. With about 15 laps to go, Logano and Kenseth were both running in or near the top five (the shuffling of positions is a constant at this track). Both drivers had been running near the bottom of the race track.
With about 15 laps left, Kenseth was running right behind Logano. While on the backstretch, Logano left the bottom open and Kenseth went to make a move. The driver of the No. 22 car threw a block about one second too late, and the left rear of Logano’s Ford and the right front of Kenseth’s No. 20 car just ever so slightly touched.
To avoid a wreck, Kenseth moved even further to the bottom past the double yellow line and Logano halted his move to the left, too. Logano let Kenseth back in line, gave Kenseth the position, and further catastrophe was avoided. Kenseth did not incur a penalty as it was pretty obvious he was forced below the yellow line and, again, the No. 22 gave him the position.
You would think this would be no harm no foul. While Logano obviously didn’t block very effectively, he essentially “made it right” by allowing Kenseth to come back in line and take the position. One would think it was just one of those restrictor plate racing incidents. No harm, no foul, we move on.
Of course, anyone who knows the history between Kenseth and Logano knew it probably wasn’t going to end there.
Both Logano and Kenseth were further back in the pack than they had been before this – again, in the grand scheme of things – relatively minor incident. Just a few laps later, Kenseth and Logano were still racing for position on the inside. To their outside, Michael McDowell got into the back of Danica Patrick (McDowell says he was hit from behind as well). Patrick spun down to the inside and caught Kenseth as well.
Both Kenseth and Patrick spun down onto the apron on the backstretch. Patrick hit the wall and Kenseth got airborne, landing on his roof at the backstretch inside wall before his car finally flipped back over onto its wheels. Both drivers sore and bruised, but otherwise were unharmed.
Since Logano was right behind Kenseth when this happened, he sustained heavy damage as well.
After the race, Logano was released from the infield care center first and was waiting outside of the building to do a television interview. When Kenseth walked out, he stopped and had a short, somewhat heated conversation with Logano. Logano seemed to blow off with what Kenseth was saying and there was some finger-pointing on the part of Kenseth before he finally walked away. The whole conversation – if you could even call it that – couldn’t have lasted more than 10 seconds.
While Kenseth didn’t blame Logano for the incident that ended his race, he did seem to be blaming Logano for putting them both in that position in the first place.
“We got behind a little bit there and I went to pass the 22 (Joey Logano) and he ran me off the race track and lost four or five spots and then got us back there where we didn’t want to be,” Kenseth said. “I don’t know, somebody must have gotten turned out of the top lane and just collected me. I was just going straight and saw a car come from the right side and cleaned our clock.”
When Logano was asked what Kenseth said to him, he responded with, “Not much.”
“It’s unfortunate,” he continued. “We had a pretty decent car. I wouldn’t say it was the fastest car out there. It took us all day to get towards the front, but we positioned ourselves well at the end there with around 20 to go up there in the front row and in the lead. We worked hard all day, but unfortunately didn’t end up as well as we’d like to two days in a row. A couple big hits, so I can’t wait to get out of this place.”
Ironically enough, this feud began at Kansas Speedway last fall, the site of this coming weekend’s race on Saturday night. Logano spun Kenseth out for the win with just a handful of laps remaining in the fall race, and went on to take the victory while Kenseth had to settle for 14th.
Of course, we all remember what happened after that. The two had issues again at Talladega the week after. Then, in Martinsville, Kenseth was caught up in a wreck with Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski, who wound up winning last weekend’s race at Talladega, FYI, going several laps down while repairing the damage behind the wall. When he came back out onto the racetrack, Logano was leading the race when he passed the now several-laps-down slower Kenseth.
Then, this happened:
It’s probably the most played clip from 2015, and maybe the most played clip in NASCAR over the past several years. Kenseth exacted payback in a big way. This ultimately drew an end to Logano’s run for the championship as he was unable to get back to victory lane before that particular Chase round came to a close and the points deficit was too steep to overcome.
Now, here we come back around to Talladega and Kansas and the two are back under each other’s skin.
That’s not to say that they have been buddies this season. Both drivers have raced each other several times this season. While they’ve raced each other extremely hard, and not given one another very much room, their various battles for position have ultimately gone without incident.
At the same time, this may be a good thing for the sport. Fans love some good rivalries and Logano certainly seems to be the villain in this particular saga – again, even though he ultimately tried to right his wrong this time around.
Regardless, Kenseth was still (understandably) aggravated with how his race ended up, especially considering that his season has seen race win after race win slip away from him because of incidents not of his own doing.
You would have thought Logano’s letting Kenseth back in line after their brief contact would have been a display of maturity and respect between the two, but if you watch Logano’s expressions and body language when Kenseth begins speaking to him, he pretty much blows Kenseth off. That likely irritated Kenseth a lot more than an apology or admission of wrong on Logano’s part would have. Heck, even an explanation would have helped.
Granted, the video of the exchange is limited to observation only as there really wasn’t any clear audio. However, it certainly didn’t look like Logano gave Kenseth the time of day when Kenseth left the care center and tried to have the conversation.
However, it appears that the final chapter to this story has not been written and likely will continue on for a long time. If Kenseth and Logano are fighting for the win at the end of the race next weekend (or at any race anytime in the near future), you might want to hold your breath and wait for the fireworks. “Racing with respect” certainly doesn’t seem to be a concept either of these two are willing to adhere to right now or anytime soon. At least not with each other.
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