by Julian Spivey
The Matt Kenseth/Joey Logano feud broke wide open on Sunday, Nov. 1 at Martinsville Speedway when Kenseth got his revenge on Logano for spinning him out two weeks ago while leading a race at Kansas Speedway.
Kenseth said after that race at Kansas that Logano would have something coming toward him. Kenseth is apparently a man of his word. Kenseth, who was nine laps down to race leader Logano due to a wreck just a few laps prior, let Logano get around his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and then pile-drove the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Logano into the wall ending both of their days. Kenseth idiotically acted like it was an unintentional accident. Logano said it was a “cowardly move.”
The incident automatically led to one of the most controversial moments in the history of NASCAR despite the fact that Kenseth, Logano, NASCAR and many of the sports’ fans saw it coming down the line for a couple of weeks.
Many former drivers now part of the broadcast media and many NASCAR print journalists want to see the sport put its foot down with Kenseth to show drivers that this sort of thing won’t be tolerated in the future. The majority of NASCAR fans don’t think NASCAR should do a thing to Kenseth. Only about 25 percent of fans in online polls, including one posted on this site’s Twitter profile believe Kenseth should be suspended.
My opinion falls somewhere in between …
I was at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago when Kenseth and Logano engaged in an epic battle for the lead toward the end of the race. Kenseth was blocking the lead pretty heavily and at one point even forced Logano up into the wall. Logano unpleased by this got into Kenseth’s rear and spun him out. Kenseth pretty much needed to win the race to secure a spot into the next segment of the sport’s playoff system and the incident kept him from doing so. An incensed Kenseth vowed retribution for being spun out – many in the media didn’t think he’d actually do it.
Kenseth has been pushed around a few times by Penske Racing drivers with Brad Keselowski and him famously brawling after a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Chase for the Championship playoffs last season. The accident at Martinsville that forced Kenseth to lose laps after running toward the front of the pack was caused by Keselowski, as well. It had reached the point where Kenseth was pushed around too many times by the Penske drivers and felt like he had to stand up for himself – he had to show the rest of the garage that he wasn’t going to be treated like that.
Standing up for yourself when other drivers keep wrecking you or shoving you around on the track is commonplace in NASCAR. We’ve seen the best drivers in the sport like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart repay fellow drivers who spun them out or wrecked them. NASCAR drivers need to have the right to police themselves just like baseball players do when they get hit by too many pitches. Drivers policing themselves by paying other drivers back has literally existed as long as the sport has, but some are acting like Kenseth’s payback on Logano was the first time they’ve ever seen it. Earlier in the same race Danica Patrick repaid David Gilliland for putting her into the wall previously, but nobody is talking about that incident right now.
NASCAR doesn’t need to get rid of their “boys have at it” policy that lets the drivers police themselves because it would take much of the excitement out of the sport and would essentially allow certain drivers to run roughshod over the sport with over-aggressive driving. The threat of someone doing exactly what Kenseth did to Logano on Sunday is enough to make a driver second guess whether or not he wants to rough somebody up.
I don’t think what Kenseth did to Logano was completely egregious for the reasons I’ve stated above. He believed he was wronged by Logano and all of Penske Racing and felt he had to take matters into his own hand. Where I do think he was wrong (other than the idiocy of lying about intent) is that I didn’t feel like Logano was completely out of line by spinning him out two weeks ago because he was blocking. However, Logano had nothing to lose in that race having won the previous week and Kenseth had everything to lose by being taken out.
NASCAR doesn’t need to overreact by suspending Kenseth for the remainder of the season like many experts including former Sprint Cup champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett have suggested, but I do think Kenseth should be suspended for next week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. He wasn’t completely out of line, but he did have a major impact on the championship in that Logano essentially must now win either of the next two weeks to make the title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in three weeks. NASCAR can’t feel great about drivers intentionally impacting championships by wrecking others (even though I contend they let Kevin Harvick get away with it the previous week).
Kenseth did what he felt he had to do and I’m alright with that. I just hope NASCAR doesn’t completely overreact and try to take out one of the few good things it has going for it at the moment – the right for drivers to have a say in how they are raced and treated on-track.