RICHMOND, Va. – Car owner Roger Penske questioned NASCAR not penalizing winner Matt Kenseth on the final restart of Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway, saying “you just can’t have that kind of officiating.’’
Restarts have been an issue in recent weeks. Drivers and a car owner raised questions about restarts in the pre-race meeting at Bristol last month. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said NASCAR needed to do a better job policing restarts after that race.
Penske’s criticism comes as his drivers – Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski – have been among the few to consistently challenge Joe Gibbs Racing this summer. Kenseth’s win Saturday marked the seventh win for JGR in the last nine races. The two races Gibbs did not win in that stretch were won by Logano.
Kenseth led the field to green with 18 laps to go and accelerated quickly. Logano, who was second and started on the outside of Kenseth, did not mount a challenge as Kenseth pulled away. Logano finished third.
“I think the last restart, the guy must have closed the window and pulled the blind down,’’ Penske said. “That’s how bad it was.’’
Penske noted that NASCAR penalized Ryan Blaney – a Penske development driver – during a Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol “for the same thing. I don’t understand. It must be a different set of rules.’’
Penske wants a clearer definition of the restart rule.
“I think they’ve got to come up with some way to say what’s right or what’s wrong,’’ Penske said. “To me, this is a perfect example of inconsistencies. When you’re racing for as tight as we are and everything that is on the line, you just can’t have that kind of officiating.’’
Kenseth said he was focused on getting a quick restart.
“I knew for sure I wasn’t going to go late,’’ he said. “Joey and Brad and are just so good on restarts. They just launch so good. I don’t know what they do. I wish we did. They just launch so fast.
“All the restarts I had tonight, Joey would typically beat me. When we got that debris caution … I knew that I had to have a good pit stop, and I had to have a good restart and get some distance and hold on because our short run wasn’t the strongest part of our car tonight. I knew it was going to be important to make sure we were clear when we got to Turn 1.”