Was suspending Matt Kenseth the right move for NASCAR?

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

A day after NASCAR announced the suspension of Matt Kenseth for two races following his collision with Joey Logano at Martinsville, I’m left wondering if Brian France and company made the right call.

The decision to suspend the former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has sent a message to fans and drivers alike, but also created division on the severity of the punishment. Many look to the Kevin Harvick incident during the green-white-checkered finish at Talladega as intentional and point to the fact that the sanctioning body did nothing to penalize Harvick – even though the end result took out many of the Chase contenders.

So the thought process for me goes like this.

Did Kenseth have a purpose to wreck then race leader Logano? Yes. Why? Because Logano made contact with Kenseth at Kansas just a couple of races prior when battling for the lead and ultimately that is what knocked the Joe Gibbs Racing driver out of the Chase.

With that said, should Kenseth have wrecked Logano? Probably not, but when you are a competitor your job is to think about yourself and your team. When you have a chance for victory and it gets taken from you, the last thing you want is the person that took it from you to be left celebrating.

The reality is that I don’t understand why NASCAR would suspend Kenseth for only two races instead of just the remaining three.

Let’s assume for a minute that Logano goes out and continues to be the guy to beat as he has shown over the course of the last month. That means he would likely win one of the next two races at Texas Motor Speedway or Phoenix International Raceway and qualify for the Championship Four at the season finale at Homestead.

Following the two race suspension Kenseth would be back for Homestead and ready to possibly change the outcome of the history books.

Would he? I don’t believe so. Then again, I never saw Kenseth act the way he did at Martinsville. It reminded me of the throwback days of Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip at Richmond.

But even with Mr. France declaring “Boys have at it,” this isn’t your daddy’s NASCAR.

I don’t believe the Martinsville fiasco warranted a suspension, maybe the typical docked points and money fine.

It is amusing though because earlier in the race David Gilliland and Danica Patrick got together and it left Patrick fuming. She sought out Gilliland, with intent to wreck him. Now, she did more damage to her own car than to his, but the result could be seen as even more harmful since there were more cars in the area that she attempted to take out Gilliland as opposed to the empty area of track where Kenseth and Logano wrecked.

What if she succeeded and as a result a Chase driver was knocked out?

Her intent was for a non Chase contender but the end result would have been the same as Kenseth’s.

Patrick’s fine was docked points, a $50,000 fine and placed on probation till the end of the year.

There is an appeal to be heard Thursday from Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing to NASCAR, but we will see what happens from there.

Kenseth likely will be sitting at home and left to watch the NFL for the next two Sundays.

The Chase has brought out a lot of drama and made things very exciting in brand new ways, but it has also showcased some inconsistent calls and I fear that it can become an often fixture if NASCAR can’t develop a specific game plan for situations that are becoming common in its version of the playoffs.

All of this seems unjust and inconsistent, then again so are NFL referees.

Whatever side of the Kenseth division you are on one thing is certain – he made things all the more interesting to watch and kept us entertained.

Image: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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Joey Barnes is the Founder of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, IndyCar.com and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.

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