I have to admit, my thoughts have been all over the place regarding this Joey Logano/Matt Kenseth deal that culminated in Sunday’s incident at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway when Kenseth returned to the track nine laps down and took out Logano, allegedly at least partly due to an incident between the two drivers two races prior at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
I will start by saying, I’m completely conflicted when it comes to penalties that should be handed down. But I do have some thoughts and questions coming out of the latest incident and comments made, including one comment by an uninvolved driver.
A.) Does Kenseth’s frustration extend to Team Penske, as a whole, not just Logano, and if so, does it go back to last year’s Chase? The reason Kenseth went nine laps down in the garage at Kansas was because of a wreck with Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski. And Kenseth has a history with Keselowski. Remember when Kenseth “went all spider monkey” on Kenseth between the haulers after last year’s Chase race at Charlotte? If you missed that race, you could’ve seen Kenseth’s WWE-like move on Good Morning America the following Monday Morning. Of course it happened so fast, and the GMA cast of characters were so focused on getting a Tony Stewart story out of the incident, so you may have missed it. But that’s another beef I think I aired here last year, so I’ll move on.
B.) Team Matt fans are saying Logano got what was coming to him after the Kansas incident. Well, Team Joey fans, I’m sure, think Kenseth got what was coming to him at Kansas. After all, he was blocking. That brings us around to that whole debate of whether blocking is right or wrong. Personally, I just think it’s a part of the sport. After all, if your driver is leading, don’t you want him or her to do whatever he or she needs to do to maintain the lead? At the same time, if your driver is running second in a faster car, should he or she just settle for and be satisfied with second? I’ve heard over and over from drivers that blocking is an acceptable move in the sport, but if you block, you must be willing to accept the consequences. Well, Kenseth blocked, and Logano doled out the consequence. So, shouldn’t that have ended it? And to those who argue that if Logano had a faster car, shouldn’t he have been able to pass cleanly? Not if there’s significant blocking. The track’s only so wide, folks.
C.) Was Sunday’s incident at Martinsville an example of “boys have at it?” When does “boys have at it” go too far? NASCAR’s never really clearly defined the line not to cross, official statements have just said that sanctioning body officials don’t really know exactly where the line is but would know when said line was crossed. I’m guessing it was probably crossed on Sunday.
D.) Was the issue really the Kansas incident, itself, or Logano’s comments and seemingly arrogant attitude afterward? After an incident between Keselowski and Jeff Gordon last year during last year’s Chase, Gordon’s issue with Keselowski seemed to be more about Keselowski’s seeming lack of interest in working out an issue with Gordon than the incident that started the whole issue, itself.
E.) Two words: Tom Logano. Tom Logano is Joey Logano’s father. Sunday’s aftermath at Martinsville wasn’t the first time the elder Logano has involved himself in his son’s battles. Remember several years ago when NASCAR temporarily yanked Tom Logano’s hard card for an incident he involved himself in. I have to admit that I don’t remember for sure the drivree other than Joey Logano involved and exactly what happened. But I do remember Daddy Logano stepping in. Joey Logano’s not only an adult, he’s a married man, now. Maybe it’s time for Dear Ol’ Dad to step aside. I realize that’s probably hard, but it’s time.
F.) I think comparing the Martinsville incident to the Kevin Harvick deal at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway the week earlier is comparing apples to oranges when it comes to deciding whether or not Kenseth should be penalized and, if so, what said penalty should be. Kenseth made his retaliation move on Logano at Martinsville pretty obvious. Determining Harvick’s motive at Talladega, though, is more difficult. An unbiased, level-headed person couldn’t reasonably convict Harvick because there most definitely was reasonable doubt, even upon inspection of the available evidence.
G.) If action is taken against Kenseth, what about Danica Patrick? Heck, she even admitted over team radio communications that she tried to take out David Gilliland on Sunday.
H.) Kyle Busch had a point, but probably not the one he meant to make. After the race, Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Busch, said that the driver’s name above the door of the race car matters when it comes to NASCAR penalties. He also said that he would definitely be parked if he had been in Kenseth’s spot. A few years ago, Busch was parked for an incident between himself and Ron Hornaday in a Camping World Truck Series race. Yes, I agree that the driver involved matters, but not because of favoritism, as I think Busch was trying to imply. I think it matters because in terms of a driver’s history of bad behavior. Certainly, a first-time offender isn’t going to be punished as harshly as a repeat offender. When Busch was punished for his incident with Hornaday a few years back, he was in the midst of exhibiting a pattern of bad behavior. Slaps on the wrist weren’t working.
I’ll conclude here, about a third of the way through the alphabet. In don’t envy those at NASCAR who hand down penalties one bit, at least not this time around. But, oh, to be a fly on the wall of that meeting room.
And by the way, I think maybe Jeff Gordon should consider adding Kenseth to his Christmas gift list. Just saying.
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