Checking out social media on Monday, there were a lot of posts expressing outrage at Matt Kenseth being parked Sunday at Kansas for having too many crewmen working on his car after damage put him on the five-minute clock. Kenseth’s disqualification took him out of the playoffs in what may be his last season with a competitive team in the Cup Series, and fans were unhappy that a seemingly small infraction ended his hopes for a second title.
So, where was the outrage a couple of weeks ago at Charlotte, when Corey LaJoie got the same penalty for the same infraction? No, LaJoie is not in the playoffs, not in the twilight of a championship career, not driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
The penalty was given exactly as the NASCAR rulebook reads, and NASCAR handled it consistently (and before you ask, the seventh man over the wall for the No. 48 Sunday was servicing the driver, and teams get permission for that from NASCAR prior to the seventh man going over, so there is zero argument there) …just like fans have said they want to happen. A penalty, or lack of one, can’t be acceptable for one team and not another, regardless of the size of the team or whether the team is in the playoffs.
NASCAR shouldn’t punish a backmarker team and not a frontrunner, nor should they overlook an infraction for a small team just because the team isn’t contending for a top finish, and they have not done that. In turn, fans don’t get to pick and choose, either. Something is worth outrage (or praise) or it’s not.
Top of the Class: Kansas
Ryan Blaney was best in class this week, finishing fourth, and more importantly, securing his spot in the round of 8 in the NASCAR playoffs.
Chris Buescher had a strong race, matching his season-best sixth place with a race that looked a bit like his XFINITY Series title form of 2015. Buescher has stability on his side going into 2018, so he’s worth watching if he can string together more solid runs.
Aric Almirola would probably like to forget the spring race at Kansas, where he suffered a broken vertebra after a hard crash that caused him to miss several weeks of competition. This time around, Almirola posted a ninth-place finish, his fifth top 10 of the season and his best intermediate track finish of 2017.
Three drivers had a strong weekend that landed them in the top 20 at Kansas, which is not as easy a feat as it is for a team with more resources. Ty Dillon posted a 16th-place finish, his second top-20 run in a row. David Ragan also put together solid runs back to back, finishing 17th after his top-10 at Talladega and making a case for Front Row Motorsports to keep him around next year. Michael McDowell posted his 14th top 20 of the season, handily beating his 2016 total of 10.
The next group of drivers all needed a strong finish and delivered handily this weekend. Matt DiBenedetto (22nd) posted his best finish since he ran eighth at Indianapolis earlier this summer. Landon Cassill put together the kind of run he’s been capable of all year with a 23rd place, about where his team should be looking to run each week. Cole Whitt (24th), Reed Sorenson (25th) and Jeffrey Earnhardt (26th) all put together some of their best runs of the season at a track where they were not expected to perform.
Not making it out of the bottom 25 percent of the field this week were Brett Moffitt (31st), AJ Allmendinger (32nd after a late-race crash), and Derrike Cope (40th). Cope made his first start with the brand-new No. 00 StarCom team only to head to the garage after just 35 laps. Will this new effort simply become a start-and-park?
Former ARCA Rookie of the Year Kyle Weatherman will make his Cup Series debut this weekend for Rick Ware Racing. In an ARCA release, Weatherman said, “I am so excited to get this unbelievable opportunity to make my first start at the NASCAR Cup level. I am so thankful for all of the people who have helped me along the way and I am literally shaking. Thanks to Rick Ware for providing me the opportunity and believing and trusting I can do a good job for his team.”
Congrats are in order for Landon Cassill and his wife, Katie. They welcomed their second child, daughter Daphne, into the world last week.
Wow! A girl! Well worth the wait. Daphne Plum Mayola Cassill. Healthy and hungry. Beckham retains his title. This trumps everything else pic.twitter.com/8hVdGkR8nI
— landon cassill (@landoncassill) October 17, 2017
— Cody Ware (@CodyShaneWare) October 22, 2017
Proud of the 21 teams effort yesterday. Such a fast car. Good news is a scored a 1985 Ricky Rudd Motorcraft jacket! pic.twitter.com/gCei6coxhR
— Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) October 16, 2017
3 years ago I thought my career was over for the 100th time. I'm so blessed and lucky to be here and I owe it to all of you for the support! https://t.co/9cdTiR4G0C
— Matt DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) October 19, 2017