Monday, October 19, 2015

COMMENTARY: Logano vs Kenseth Was What Racing Is All About

Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway ended in volatile, controversial fashion, with leaders Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano clashing with just a handful of laps remaining.

Logano bought a piece of the frontstretch wall with assistance from Kenseth with just a handful of laps remaining, before turning the former series champion around in the first turn. Logano then survived a green/white/checkered flag restart to claim the checkered flag, while Kenseth saw his title hopes severely damaged with a 14th-place finish.

“It was really cut and dry,” said an angry but composed Kenseth afterward. “He picked my rear tires off the ground and wrecked me, so there’s no debate about that one.

“He was a little bit tighter on that short run than I was,” he explained, “and I couldn’t get away from him. All day, we had him pretty good. I thought I was going to be able to stay in front of him. I saw those lapped cars coming and tried getting a couple of runs off the top. I was plenty clear, got up in front of him and he just decided to take us out.”

Logano saw it differently, saying that Kenseth repeatedly blocked him in the late laps, before eventually squeezing him into the outside wall on the frontstretch.

“We were racing each other really hard, and I got in the fence twice on the straightaways,” he said. “He raced me hard, and I raced him hard back.”

Asked about the wisdom of triggering a feud so deep in the Chase, Logano countered, “I didn’t think it was a good move when I hit the wall. I got in the fence twice, (and) I wasn’t going to put up with it. I’m sure we’ll talk about it.”

Todd Warshaw, Getty Images
While many observers insist on placing all the blame on one party or another, Sunday’s fireworks were a simple case of two drivers racing aggressively and giving no quarter with an important race on the line. Logano wanted to win, while Kenseth needed to win, in order to salvage his fading championship hopes. Two tough customers laid it all on the line in the final laps, knowing that one of them might not make it to the checkered flag.

There is no question that Kenseth blocked Logano repeatedly over the final few laps. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver admitted as much after the race. There is also no question that Logano had a wheel alongside Kenseth’s right-rear corner on Lap 249, only to be squeezed into the SAFER barrier.

That’s what stock car racing is all about; two drivers racing their guts out in pursuit of the checkered flag, with no excuses and no apologies. Kenseth did what he had to do to maintain the lead Sunday, and Logano did what he had to do in response.

Asked if he believes Logano turned him intentionally, Kenseth said, “Absolutely, 100 percent.”

Daniel Shirey, Getty Images
Logano disagreed, saying the pair was “just going for the same piece of real estate.”

He admitted however, that he was not about to be roughed-up by the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, without responding in kind.

“That’s the way I race,” he said. “He raced me really hard and I raced him the same way he raced me. That’s how I’ve always been, and it will always be that way.”

“I’m really disappointed,” said Kenseth afterward. “Yeah, I was running the lane he wanted to run. But isn’t that racing? He’ll probably sleep good tonight. I hope he enjoys that one. It’s not what I would have done, but he had a decision to make and that’s the one he made.

“I’ve probably been one of his biggest supporters. It was an awkward thing, obviously, taking his ride (at Joe Gibbs Racing) and I was excited for him when he started winning at Penske. Strategically, that didn't seem like such a great decision for him. But it's the one he made and that's how he wanted to win. I'm one of the only guys that hasn't been into it yet with Joey, and I've always raced him with a ton of respect.

“I've actually been one of his biggest fans. I'm certainly not anymore, but I always was. It's a shame.”

Logano heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend without a care in the world; the only driver with a guaranteed ticket to the Eliminator Round of the Chase. 

Kenseth, meanwhile, staggers into the Alabama speedplant knowing that nothing short of a victory will keep his faltering championship hopes alive.


  1. Just good hard racing, isn't that what we all want. Love the drama

  2. No one was blameless in this one . Matt really needed the win and Joey had a chance to win and put his foot on the throat of one of the favorites for the championship. They both did what they thought was necessary . Not a lot to analyze.

    1. Anonymous2:44 PM

      Agreed...I saw 3 blocks & 2 back offs-Followed by a third block (now at the lower lanes) & no backing off...Everyone did exactly what was expected..The option go's to the blocker-Is second ok or is the risk worth it?..Further could he have tried a crossover or side draft etc..No harm no foul here..I don't believe Matt would have backed off either & I know Harv or either Busch or Carl would have...So who would have backed off in that situation(McMurray?) ..I doubt even Jr would have backed off..I have many times cheered for Matt & think he's a great driver..Earner

  3. Anonymous1:12 PM

    How often do we get to see racing like that in the closing laps? Sure made for a great finish to a snoozer. Just good hard racing, period.

  4. Anonymous2:16 PM

    Wow for once I wasn't sorry I read this article.

  5. Anonymous3:19 PM

    This has happened time in and time out. It is racing. Some whiners feel that Logano should have not raced Matt that hard, well because poor Matt "needed" that win and Logano did not. What??????? Both their jobs are to fight for wins for their owners, teams, sponsors and themselves. Too many of today's 15 minute attention span fans seem to come from the era of everybody gets a participation trophy and a one week I let you win, the next week you let me win mentality. Good for Logano for enjoying his win, and not apologizing for doing what he is paid to do. Matt look in the mirror please. You were embarrassing.

  6. Anonymous3:22 PM

    Matt "It's not what I would have done". Matt are you losing your memory setting at 43? Maybe you should check with Jeff Gordon and some others. Pffft. Fans have memories Matt, even if you don't.

  7. I don't have a problem with putting a bumper to someone. That is Cup racing. But ham-handedly spinning someone out for the win is bush league. If a driver's not good enough to execute a bump, he probably shouldn't try it in the first place. Because he's gonna wreck people. And with 4 to go!

    1. Anonymous12:26 AM

      Well then by your statements..most Sprint Cup drivers are busch league. Lol. They all have done it! Especially the big, big names and elders that you I assume love. oh vey.

  8. Anonymous8:13 PM

    I don't like blocking, period. I know it's done all the time, but in my opinion, it's just not right.

    The leader has the advantage. You want to run the other guy's line to take it away from him? Fine. You want to run the groove that's best for you? That's fine too. Just make up your mind.

    But, that's not the way it is in racing. And were I in Matt's place, I would have done what he did. That is an acceptable practice, but,.............

    I would also be ready to accept the consequences of my actions.

    While the leader has the advantage of trying to take up the entire racing surface, he/she does so at the mercy of the overtaking driver. And when that driver decides it time to assert himself, it ain't gonna be pretty, and the leader ain't gonna like it.

    Maybe with one lap to go it may work, but with six or seven laps to go, the person knocking on your door, if you don't open it, then he will open it for himself.

    If dumping the blocker became routine, it might put an end to the blocking, or it might result in more confrontations. Either way, it's a win for NASCAR.

  9. Unusually good racing at a generally boring venue. Unusually composed and confident Joey Logano and as usual, an excessively whining Matt Kenseth.

  10. Anonymous8:45 AM

    Logano, taking lessons from Keslowski. Soon, he'll be as disliked. His turn will come in the final round.

    1. Anonymous12:24 AM

      Well, I think they asked certain drivers if they would like a popularity trophy or a win trophy, only one Einstein said the popularity trophy. I will let you figure out who that was.

  11. Definitely exciting racing for the fans and most likey a product of the new format with round winner immunity.

    Was it the smartest move by Joey as far as the championship goes? Maybe not as it definitely wasnt big picture racing. As a racing fan though I dont care because these are the moments that stand out and will be highlights for decades.

    Of course I might feel a little different at the moment if my driver was either Matt or Joey as I'd be feeling a little uncomfortable right now. :)

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