NASCAR’s Brian France: Suspension remains possibility for Matt Kenseth

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NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Tuesday morning that Matt Kenseth could face a suspension and that Kenseth’s incident at Kansas with Joey Logano was much different from what happened between the two drivers last weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

France also told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that a decision will come later today on Kenseth wrecking Logano and Danica Patrick ramming David Gilliland.

Kenseth, running 10 laps behind after an earlier incident with Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, wrecked Logano while Logano led with 45 laps left at Martinsville. The contact cost Logano a chance to win and advance to the championship round later this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The contact came two weeks after Kenseth spun while battling Logano for the lead in the final laps at Kansas. Kenseth blocked and Logano’s car made contact. France called that “quintessential NASCAR” on SiriusXM NASCAR at the time.

France made it clear Tuesday on “The Morning Drive” that the contact between Kenseth and Logano at Kansas and Martinsville were not similar.

“The reality is that in Kansas, what I said on this show was that late in a race we expect drivers to take chances to win races, they’ve got the skill to do it,” France said. “We expect them to race hard. Blocking is part of this game, as Matt was doing, and contact will happen in NASCAR from time to time.

“That’s really all that was, but the unfortunate thing for Matt is that he had a lot of on the line that day and it’s understandable the disappointment he had. Late in that race, a faster car is behind you and you’re blocking, there’s some contact and you get the short end of it and you go around. That was an entirely different situation than Martinsville.

“What we’re not going to do is to take the style of NASCAR and parlay that into something where one driver or another believes the way to pay back somebody for something that happened is to take matters into their own hands. Obviously, we won’t be accepting that. The most important thing is the way to pay drivers back is to race them hard. When someone races you hard, you race them hard. If they’re going to give you no inches late in the race, then that’s how you’re going to race them. That’s NASCAR. What happened on Sunday, that’s not quite the way we would have liked to have seen that turn out.”

France was asked on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio if officials would look at other similar situations.

“We’ll take into consideration other incidents that have occurred, and we’ll look at that and what kind of punishment we administered,” he said. “Understand that all situations are different and that’s also hard to follow sometimes and when you don’t have all the facts and you want to say that thing between so-and-so at that track that was the same exact thing, and they seldom are. They’re never the same.

“But there’s similarities, and we’ll take some of the history that we have ruled on in the past because we want to be as consistent as we can, but, remember, this format is much different than it’s ever been and there is more on the line. We knew when this format was developed that it would present some unique situations for drivers to take more chances … and it would make the job of officiating the events more difficult for us, but we understood that. At the end of the day there’s a real clear set of requirements to be a NASCAR driver and a set of rules.”

In recent incidents, Jeff Gordon was fined $100,000 and docked 25 points for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer at Phoenix during the Chase in 2012. Kyle Busch was parked for the Xfinity and Cup races after wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. during a Truck race at Texas in 2011. Carl Edwards was parked and placed on a three-race probation after wrecking Keselowski at Atlanta in 2010.

Asked if a suspension remained a possibility for Kenseth, France said: “They’re all on the table. We’re going to take everything into consideration that occurred because we won’t want that to happen again. We don’t want any of our events to be altered in a way that they shouldn’t be. That doesn’t mean that they don’t get altered because of hard racing. That’s always going to be a part of the game of NASCAR. There is going to be contact, there is going to be somebody who had a lot on the line and in Matt’s case in Kansas where you just simply get the absolute short end of the straw. We hope that never happens, but that is going to happen.

“But what we want to prevent happening is drivers or any participants in NASCAR to take matters into their own hands and begin to control the outcomes of races. When that happens, that’s a very serious thing for us and we’ll be dealing with that.”

France noted that it does not matter that Kenseth is a former champion to NASCAR as it decides what type of punishment to issue.

“He’s driving the car, he makes those decisions,” France said. “It doesn’t matter somebody’s background. It matters what they did that day.

“We will make sure that what is the acceptable style of racing is always a part of NASCAR and what is not will not. We have lots of ways to make sure. We certainly can make sure that the rules are going to reflect somebody who gets well outside of those rules for whatever the reason, whatever the motivation is, payback, whatever it may be. We will deal with that as we always have, very clearly and very carefully and we’ll get it right and that’s our job to do that.”

Truck results, point standings after Miami

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Brett Moffitt beat Grant Enfinger to the checkers by two seconds to take his sixth race of the season.

Playoff contender Noah Gragson finished third.

Stewart Friesen was fourth with Sheldon Creed rounding out the top five.

Click here for complete results.

Moffitt’s victory earned him the championship. This is the first time since 1999 that the champion won the final race of the season.

With his third-place finish, Gragson finished second in the standings.

Justin Haley finished eighth in the race and third in the standings.

Johnny Sauter finished 12th in the race and fourth in the standings.

Grant Enfinger rounded out the top five.

Click here for the complete points report.

Brett Moffitt wins Truck race at Miami, takes championship

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Brett Moffitt beat Grant Enfinger by two seconds Friday night to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and the championship.

It was his sixth victory of the season.

Moffitt’s first win of the season came at Atlanta in the season’s second race but even then he was unsure if the team would have the financing to go to every race and be eligible for the playoffs.

“It’s unreal,” Moffitt said on FoxSports 1 from victory lane. “I didn’t know if I was going to get the opportunity to compete for a championship even after I got my first win.

“Everyone pulled together hard here. Back at Chicago (in June) we didn’t know if we were going to make it to the racetrack.”

Chicago was another race won by Moffitt.

Friday night, Enfinger finished second to Moffitt.

Fellow playoff contender Noah Gragson finished third. Stewart Friesen finished fourth with Sheldon Creed rounding out the top five.

MORE: Brett Moffitt seeks to join pantheon of NASCAR ‘stache champions

Moffitt achieved the title in just 36 starts – the fewest since Mike Skinner won the inaugural championship in 1995 in 20 races.

Moffitt’s championship comes with an uncertain future. He announced Thursday that he does not have a contract for next year.

Playoff contender Justin Haley finished eighth.

“We just struggled.” he said. “I don’t know why.”

Former champion Johnny Sauter battled handling problems for most of the race and was not a factor.

“It was awful,” he said. “Just no grip. We laid an egg tonight. I don’t know why.

“When you suck that bad, it’s whatever, you just go home and go what the hell happened? I’ll ask myself that for three months.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brett Moffitt

MORE: Click here for complete results.
MORE: Click here for the complete points report.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Jesse Little tied his career best finish of sixth (which he first scored at Iowa this June). … Tyler Dippel finished 15th to score his fourth top 15 in five Truck starts.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Robby Lyons slapped the wall on Lap 78; he finished 29th. … Chris Windom started 10th but hit the wall with a handful of laps remaining to finish 24th. 

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “We were just too tight there (at the end). Needed to make better adjustments on pit road and that’s where it comes down to me,” Noah Gragson told FS1 after the race. “This one is going to hurt for a while.”

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Myatt Snider scored three top fives and eight top 10s on his way to rookie honors. Snider’s best finish this season was runner-up at Talladega. His best unrestricted finish was a third at Martinsville.

NOTABLE: This is the first time since 1999 that the champion won the season finale.

WHAT’S NEXT: Nextera Energy Resources 250 on Feb. 15, 2019 at Daytona International Speedway.

Should Denny Hamlin’s team take No. 1 pit stall or leave it for Kyle Busch?

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Denny Hamlin’s pole-winning effort Friday night made for an emotional moment in his final Cup race with close friend Mike Wheeler as his crew chief.

Hamlin’s pole also created a quandary.

With the pole, Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing team has the first pick of pit stalls. Any other race, it’s an easy call: The team takes the No. 1 pit stall at the exit of pit road.

MORE: Denny Hamlin will have a new crew chief in 2019

But things are complicated because Hamlin is not in the title race and teammate Kyle Busch, who qualified second and whose team has second pick of pit stalls, is racing for a championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

If Hamlin’s team takes a different pit stall, it would allow Busch to have the No. 1 stall, which is viewed as the best on pit road. That could be the difference in having the lead off pit road and could impact who wins the championship.

So, what will Wheeler do when crew chiefs make their pit stall selection Saturday morning?

“We’re paid to win races for JGR and (sponsor) FedEx,” Wheeler told NBC Sports. “It’s definitely on my mind and my heart to be aware of that for Denny and our team. Obviously, we want to win a championship for JGR, too. That’s one of the biggest goals, a bigger goal this weekend. There’s some chatter going on about that.”

In one sense, it could be an easy call — let Busch have the No. 1 pit stall. The focus in any organization at this point is on the team racing for a championship. So why not give that team that advantage?

On the other hand, Hamlin is winless this year and could have one of his best chances to score a victory and extend his streak of consecutive seasons with a win to 13. He won this race in 2013 to keep that streak alive. 

“I think everything is earned,” Hamlin said. “Nothing is given. With us having the No. 1 pit stall, nobody else — none of the other competitors will have it. I don’t know. It’s a discussion. I mean, certainly I would think that (Wheeler), with the pressure always to win, you’ve got to do everything you can to win. We’ll have that discussion.”

The pit stalls at Homestead-Miami Speedway are 30-feet, 8-inches long. The camera at the end of pit road is about 40 feet from the No. 1 pit stall. That’s closer than some other tracks. That means a driver in that stall can fire out of the pit stall and surge ahead of those coming down pit road.

Last year, Hamlin’s team faced a similar issue but it was an easier call. Hamlin, who was not in the title race, won the pole. Martin Truex Jr., a title contender, qualified second last year. Truex’s team — which has a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing — asked if Hamlin’s team could take another pit stall so Truex could have the No. 1 stall. Hamlin’s team declined.

Cup starting lineup at Miami

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Denny Hamlin posted a lap of 173.863 mph to win his second consecutive pole at Miami and his third in the past four years.

He edged teammate Kyle Busch (173.622 mph) by .043 seconds.

Martin Truex Jr. (173.539), Brad Keselowski (173.433) and Joey Logano (173.366) rounded out the top five.

Kevin Harvick posted a lap of 171.942 mph to line up 12th on Sunday. This is the furthest back he has been at Miami since 2015 when he qualified 13th and finished second.

Click here for the complete starting lineup.