Ryan: Blocking brought consequences for Kenseth


KANSAS CITY, Kan. – If rubbing is racing, then blocking is …

Blasphemy? Badass?

Blocking is …

Well, it’s complicated.

There might be no alliterative witticism in the NASCAR vernacular to describe the practice of deliberately impeding another driver’s progress. Yet there is one truism about the maneuver.

It comes with consequences.

The sort that cost Matt Kenseth a victory at Kansas Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was seething Sunday after his No. 20 Toyota was bumped out of the lead – and a guaranteed berth in the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup – by race winner Joey Logano.

The anger was understandable from Kenseth, who is having a career season with five victories and seemed on the way to a sixth after leading a race-high 153 of 269 laps. He was a few minutes from a checkered flag that would shore up a championship bid via playoff advancement after enduring a week of nerves frayed by opening the second round of the playoffs with a 42nd at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In a large plume of white tire smoke, all the elation evaporated and left Kenseth facing the unenviable prospect of a must-win at Talladega Superspeedway to keep his title chances afloat.

Any Sprint Cup star understandably would be upset by those circumstances, and Kenseth fired several razor-sharp digs while subtly vowing retribution.

Yet the ire directed at Logano was misplaced.

The golden rule of racing applies as much as in any walk of life. Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you.

When Kenseth threw a backstretch block that squeezed Logano’s No. 22 Ford into a scrape with the wall at over 190 mph several laps earlier, it established the justification for payback.

As a rule of thumb in racing, you might get to throw one block – and even that ultimately might be determined by whether the driver behind you wants to risk a rear-end collision – but all bets certainly are off after that.

If you continually try to obstruct the path of a faster car and force a competitor to choose between lifting off the accelerator and lifting your rear tires off the asphalt, you increasingly create an untenable set of circumstances.

Should Kenseth have gone for the win at the risk of putting himself in the position for being roughed up? With Talladega looming, it might have seemed the smart play, but he also had refused to label Kansas a win-or-else proposition two days earlier. If he had finished second Sunday, there still might have been a chance to advance with a top five at Talladega (where he finished second last year).

Regardless, Kenseth took his shot at stopping Logano, who unquestionably had the faster car since a restart 15 laps earlier. The first block merely delayed Logano’s charge – and guaranteed there’d be no more dispensation when the opportunity arrived again to challenge for the lead on Lap 263 entering Turn 1.

“I feel like he raced me the same way,” Logano said. “I’d be surprised if he expected something different.  We were just racing hard, and he’s racing for a win, I’m racing for a win. There’s a lot of aggression there, and that’s what our sport is built on.  Our sport is built on stuff like that.”

The old-school argument made by a 25-year-old rising star (who is 18 years Kenseth’s junior) is intriguing because there seems a growing generational divide about the unwritten rules of racing etiquette.

This is the second straight season in which a Team Penske driver has left a champion feeling aggrieved by aggression. Last season, it was Jeff Gordon, 44, who angrily accused Brad Keselowski, 31, of needlessly causing contact while contending for the lead in the closing laps at Texas Motor Speedway.

Sunday’s incident at Kansas wasn’t entirely analogous because the cars weren’t side by side. Logano was behind Kenseth, which added the wrinkle of whether he could have completed a pass for the lead without contact.

Logano said he didn’t mean to turn Kenseth (“we both went for the same piece of real estate”), who countered that it was “absolutely, 100 percent” intentional.

In other words, it was complicated.

That’s blocking.


NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.