MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Saying he was “certainly disappointed” with Matt Kenseth, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell hinted Sunday at further penalties for the No. 20 driver.
Kenseth was parked for the remainder of the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 after sending Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford, which was leading with 45 laps remaining, into the Turn 1 wall in an apparent measure of retribution for Logano spinning Kenseth in a win at Kansas Speedway two weeks earlier.
NASCAR executives met with Kenseth, team owner Joe Gibbs and crew chief Jason Ratcliff for 10 minutes after the race, and O’Donnell said the next two days would be spent digesting videotape and having further conversations about the incident.
NASCAR has suspended drivers for blatantly intentional wrecks in the past, sitting Kyle Busch for the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series events at Texas Motor Speedway in November 2011 after Busch intentionally crashed Ron Hornaday Jr. under caution flag.
Pressed on whether Kenseth, who was eliminated from championship contention last week, could face a similar punishment, O’Donnell declined to speculate.
“We never make an announcement on a Sunday night,” he said. “It’s something we still want to review, and yeah, there are options on the table for us.”
Kenseth has said he intentionally was spun from the lead at Kansas, where Logano won the second of a three-victory sweep of the second round. The Team Penske driver wasn’t penalized for that move, and O’Donnell said Kenseth’s move crossed a line because it wasn’t for position.
“The Chase promotes great racing,” O’Donnell said. “What was disappointing today was a driver not competing for a win as many laps down (Kenseth was 10 laps off the pace from an earlier crash involving contact with Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski) when that happened.
“In our minds that’s a little bit different than two drivers really going after it coming out of Turn 4 for a win vs. what happened tonight.”
O’Donnell said NASCAR doesn’t believe the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which was revamped last season with points resets and elimination rounds, was causing drivers to overreact.
“I think Chase format creates great racing on the track,” he said. “You saw six of eight competitors going for a championship lead laps today. Drivers at their best.
“You’re going to see drivers going to door to door. In the history of NASCAR, we’ve seen that. I’d go back to this incident as a one-off we’ll look at, but we continue to believe the Chase promotes great racing on the track. And I think the fans certainly saw that today.”