On Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Joey Logano claimed his second-straight win and remained the only race winner in the second round, a.k.a. Contender Round, of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, heading into the Oct. 25 CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, perhaps NASCAR’s biggest wild card race, as the only driver with the survival of his championship hopes beyond Talladega guaranteed. But the way he claimed his most recent win was controversial, to say the least.
The on-track incident between Logano and Matt Kenseth with Kenseth leading with five laps remaining in the Kansas race’s 267-lap scheduled distance brought up a couple of questions among those in the NASCAR fanbase and motorsports media. When is it acceptable to block, if ever? And is it okay to turn a car for a race lead and eventual win?
Fans seem to have, for the most part, taken sides and the pro-Joey and pro-Matt camps both seem pretty heavily populated. The pro-Joey folks hold to the idea that if Kenseth was going to block, he should’ve been willing to accept the consequences, while the pro-Kenseth camp thinks that Logano turning Kenseth was a shining example of “dirty racing.”
I’m neutral on this one, as in I think both drivers were doing what they felt they needed to do. Kenseth was in a substantial Chase hole heading into Kansas with the wild card that is Talladega looming as his only other shot to climb back into championship contention. He was the race leader before the infamous contact at Kansas, and to claim the win to guarantee advancement and take the heat off for Talladega, he needed to stay up front.
Meanwhile, Logano wanted to win the race, too. Sure, he was already guaranteed advancement to Chase round three before his Kansas win, but another win would keep another driver from being able to breathe easy heading into Talladega. Also, a win’s a win, and shouldn’t a driver always want to win? Besides, Logano tried to get by Kenseth multiple times before the contact and claims he was nearly “fenced” by Kenseth’s blocking multiple times. If your driver was in the same position, would you want him/her to give up and just ride along behind the slower car in front of him, watching him drive to the win? If you’re being completely honest, I kind of doubt it.
Most of the Sprint Cup drivers who have been around any time at all have been on both sides of the scenario; they’ve been the blocker and the blockee, so-to-speak. And in either position, they’ve pretty much all done the same as the aforementioned driver in their respective position. And I’m guessing if the roles were reversed between Logano and Kenseth in the same situation, they each would do what the other did on Sunday.
This was a racing deal — two drivers, each doing what he needed to do for the win. Let’s just leave it at that.
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