Side by Side: Nate Ryan, Dustin Long on NASCAR suspending Kenseth


NASCAR Talk‘s Nate Ryan and Dustin Long offered their thoughts on NASCAR suspending Matt Kenseth for two races for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano last weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

NATE RYAN: If a key to hooking the highly coveted Millennial audience is by cultivating its youthful stars, NASCAR took an unwitting step toward the future Tuesday by benching Matt Kenseth.

Strip away all of the nonsense about driver codes and the accompanying code language, and what’s clear is that the current controversy engulfing the Sprint Cup Series breaks down across generational lines.

Besides being this year’s only championship contender born after 1990, the case can be made that no current driver has been assailed, bullied and taunted by rivals as much as Joey Logano … except perhaps teammate Brad Keselowski, the first Millennial champion in Sprint Cup history.

The Team Penske duo has an anti-establishment bent – though its style seems more old school and traditional than those who are demanding contrite expressions of regret for it – and it’s brought condemnation from the ruling class of stock-car racing.

With his punishment of Kenseth – and the lack of penalty for Logano’s spin and win at Kansas – NASCAR chairman Brian France (a latter-stage Baby Boomer, by the way) delivered an implicit message of disapproval to the cadre of Generation X stars who seem to believe it’s their way or the highway.


DUSTIN LONG: NASCAR’s penalty to Matt Kenseth redefines a sport and alters a driver code at the expense of a competitor.

After questions of if officials were truly in control, NASCAR changed the rules less than three weeks before its championship race to ensure there would be no funny business in the finale.

Kenseth had the misfortune of being the guy who crossed the line in NASCAR’s eyes and drew the heavy penalty.

Many will argue NASCAR’s actions were not fair and that Kenseth is being made a scapegoat. They’re right to some degree. But NASCAR had to react. They had allowed drivers too much freedom in settling scores.

There comes a time when if you give someone a chance to make the right decisions and they continually don’t, it’s time to step in.

NASCAR’s laissez faire approach no longer worked. But in reasserting control, the question is if NASCAR went too far.



Coca-Cola 600 resumes after rain delay

Coca-Cola 600
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The Coca-Cola 600 is back under way following a rain delay.

The caution was issued on Lap 49 for rain and the field was brought to pit road. The red flag was issued at 7:07 p.m. ET and lifted at 8:16 p.m. ET.

The top five at the time of the stoppage was Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano.

Check back for updates.


Denny Hamlin team faces potential penalty after ballast falls off car

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Denny Hamlin was involved in an incident even before Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 got underway that could result in a hefty penalty.

A chunk of tungsten ballast — which teams use to bring Cup cars up to minimum weight standards — fell off Hamlin’s car on a parade lap.

The incident puts Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart and several others on the team in violation of the NASCAR rule book, which means a hefty penalty could be in the offing.

According to the NASCAR rule book, the penalty is Minimum safety penalty options — “Loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle will result in a four Race suspension of the crew chief, car chief, and head engineer. If NASCAR cannot identify which series or vehicle the lost ballast originated from, all vehicles entered for that Event from and associated with the team organization identified on the lost ballast may receive the suspensions.”

If NASCAR implements the potential penalty, Gabehart and others could miss the following four races: May 27 at Charlotte, May 31 at Bristol, June 7 at Atlanta and June 10 at Martinsville.

Several of those tracks are good for Hamlin, including winning the Bristol summer night race last year, as well as was fourth at the Martinsville playoff race last fall and 11th at Atlanta.

NASCAR ordered Hamlin back to pit road where the No. 11 crew added a new chunk of ballast to Hamlin’s car. He returned to the race eight laps down.

Here’s what a fabricator from rival team Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted about the incident:

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

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Chevrolet drivers swept the top three rows for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600, led by Kurt Busch‘s pole-winning lap of 181.269 mph.

Jimmie Johnson was next with a lap of 181.214 mph. He was followed by Chase Elliott (181.002 mph), Matt Kenseth (180.923), rookie Tyler Reddick (180.905) and Austin Dillon (180.741).

Ford driver Joey Logano, who starts seventh after a lap of 180.451 mph, was the top qualifier not driving a Chevrolet.

TO THE REAR: Matt DiBenedetto (backup car), Brad Keselowski (unapproved adjustment), Aric Almirola (unapproved adjustment), JJ Yeley (unapproved adjustment) and Timmy Hill (unapproved adjustment)

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Kurt Busch on pole for Coca-Cola 600

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Kurt Busch will lead the field to the green flag for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600 after claiming the pole Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It is Busch’s 28th career pole and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch is joined on the front row by Jimmie Johnson. Chase Elliott qualified third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Tyler Reddick. Austin Dillon was sixth, as Chevrolet drivers took the top six spots.

Click here for qualifying results

Aric Almirola spun coming to take the green flag to begin his qualifying lap. He grazed the wall with his rear bumper.

Matt DiBenedetto slapped the wall off Turn 4 during his qualifying lap and will go to a backup car and start at the rear of the field.