As much as I enjoyed the craziness and excitement of the Goodys 500, I know that NASCAR has monetarily lost control of this sport. As the leader of the race, Joey Logano entered turn 1 with nearly 50-laps to go, struggling Matt Kenseth decided to take out his revenge on the 25-year-old driver. For those who have forgotten, Logano spun Kenseth out of the lead in Kansas virtually ruining Kenseth's Chase chances. Kenseth who was involved in an incident just a few laps before was wounded after spinning off the nose of Brad Keselowski. Kenseth then came back on the track not far ahead of Logano, and preceded to do the following:
My allegiance to #GordonNation led me to be excited about this event at first, considering Gordon was just handed the lead. Then after everything soaked in I knew I had to look at this incident from the point of view of a professional, someone who is non-bias covering the sport. When taking that approach I came to realize that though exciting, Kenseth's actions were un-called for. No matter how angry you are with a driver, you just don't take them out when they are competing for a championship. Though I have some personal beliefs as to what NASCAR should do to Kenseth, I am going to use this post to discuss both sides of the coin, and talk about why or why not NASCAR should suspend Kenseth for the remainder of the 2015 season. (DISCLAIMER: I do not like or dislike Kenseth, he is just another driver to me, but clearly any champion and winner of our sport has my respect.)
First, why NASCAR SHOULD suspend Matt Kenseth:
What Kenseth did was inexcusable, NASCAR can't allow this to continue. No matter how exciting it is for the fans what Kenseth did was completely wrong. Take away the drivers are involved and the prior history, and you have a guy a lap down ruining someone else's run for a championship, ON PURPOSE. The last few weeks have been packed with controversy, and NASCAR has done only a half way job of managing it. NASCAR needs to step in here and show that this kind of behavior is still not tolerated in the sport. Though wrecks and tempers will always play a role in racing, it is sad to see a championship contender go from being the favorite to a guy that now has to win just to make it the next round. The only time in recent history I can remember NASCAR suspending a driver for wrecking a championship contender was in 2011, when Kyle Busch wrecked Ron Hornaday who was competing for the truck series title. Busch who clearly wrecked Hornaday on purpose was parked for the Cup race the next day at Texas Motor Speedway. Though both of these situations do have different implications and involve two different series, this does give us a bit of ground to go off of. Kenseth should at least be suspended for a week, but considering the toxic environment now in the sport NASCAR may set the standard for purposely wrecking a championship contender, and tell Kenseth they will see him in Daytona.
Second, why NASCAR SHOULD NOT suspend Matt Kenseth:
NASCAR has given drivers more and more freedom the last few years to settle their issues on track. 'Boys have at it' was the campaign of choice for NASCAR starting back in 2012, and it's still exists today. NASCAR who knows fans want the emotion has decided that a little confrontation or two is fine, fights equal money. As for why I say NASCAR shoudn't fine Kenseth, I say you have to look at what they have allowed in the past. I go back to 2012 where Jeff Gordon purposely took out Clint Bowyer, who at the time still had the chance to win the championship. Both teams had a huge altercation in the garage, leading to a fight among crew members. Gordon who took matter into his own hands and caused a scary wreck late in the race, was NOT suspended, in fact he went on to win the Ford 400 the next weekend in Homestead. NASCAR can't let the drivers name affect the severity of the penalty, so if you're going to let Gordon race, why suspend Kenseth? In addition, NASCAR never punished Kevin Harvick for what many drivers and fans think was an intentional wreck to keep Harvick and his #4 team in the Chase. Honestly, if this was another driver such as a Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR wouldn't be considering suspending them. This is a chance for NASCAR to find some consistency in their calls, if you suspend Kenseth it has to be justified by later decisions.
Overall, I do believe NASCAR will throw a penalty Kenseth's way, but I can't say what it is. I would completely understand if NASCAR did suspend Kenseth for the rest of the 2015 season considering what he did was completely un-called for. Looking back at both sides, NASCAR has to maintain a level of respect in the garage among competitors, and NASCAR could use Kenseth to set an example. Then again, if NASCAR wants to promote the 'boys have at it' style of racing, you can't punish drivers for using the system in which you created. NASCAR created the 'boys have it' slogan and the elimination Chase format to spark excitement, well they are getting what they wanted. All I can say is that it will be very interesting to see what unfolds this week in terms of penalties and fines, just hope NASCAR finds a middle ground.
Thanks for reading!! I just wanted to look at both sides of the story! Let me know what you think, and remember to follow me on twitter @nascar_opinion!! Have a great rest of your day!!