The former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is even-keeled by nature, with the experience and tenure to see the big picture in virtually every circumstance.
The penalties handed down to Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing team yesterday, however, are the exception to that rule.
"I think the penalties are grossly unfair," said Kenseth Thursday at Richmond International Raceway. "I think it's borderline shameful.” Kenseth stated – correctly -- that his JGR Toyota team "had no control” over the weight of the connecting rods in their engine, built by Toyota Racing Development. "There's no argument the part was wrong,” he said. “They weighed it and it was wrong. However, there is an argument that there certainly was no performance advantage.
"You can find any unbiased, reputable, knowledgeable engine builder, and if they saw the facts -- what all the rods weighed -- the average weight of all the rods was well above the minimum. There was (even) one in there that was way heavy.
"There was no performance advantage, there was no intent, it was a mistake."
He said the penalties assessed by NASCAR -- a $200,000 fine, six-race suspension and probation until Dec. 31 for crew chief Jason Ratcliff; 50 driver and owner-point penalties for himself and team owner Joe Gibbs and invalidation of the team’s Kansas pole win, among other sanctions – were excessive.
"To crush Joe Gibbs like that (and) to say they can't win an owner's championship with the team this year, I can't wrap my arms around that,” he said. “It just blows me away. The same with Jason Ratcliff. I don't feel bad for myself at all, but for Jason and Joe, I just couldn't feel any worse.
"There are no more reputable, honest, hard-working guys with good reputations than those two,” said Kenseth. “I feel really bad for them.
I don't argue (that) there was a scale, and it says it has to weigh 225 grams. And if it weighs 224.99, it's illegal. I don't think any of us have any argument about that.
"I just think the penalty is way over the top.”
"I understand a lot of NASCAR's points,” he admitted. “I think they do a really good job of trying to police the garage. I understand (it’s) internal parts of the engine that you can't tech that all the time, and they need to make (the penalties) big, so people aren't messing with that. The part in there was wrong and somebody needs to pay for that. Everybody in the garage needs to understand (that) you can't get away with that mistake. It's still wrong, and I understand all that. But this was no performance advantage.