Fit the crime: NASCAR has to choose which penalty model to follow

BY Tom Jensen • November 2, 2015

So, what sort of penalty should NASCAR impose on Matt Kenseth for deliberately wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday?

Well, the sanctioning body has a couple of precedents from which to choose.

At Phoenix International Raceway in the penultimate race of the 2012 season, Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecked Clint Bowyer in an incident that had eerie similarities to the Kenseth-Logano spat: Gordon and Bowyer had a history dating back to Martinsville in the spring, and Gordon felt Bowyer had done him wrong on several occasions, just as Kenseth has had a history with Logano and Logano's teammate, Brad Keselowski.

Finally, Gordon uncharacteristically lost his cool with Bowyer and drilled him at Phoenix, triggering a brawl on pit road.

Early in the Martinsville race, Kenseth gave Logano a mild bump to move him out of the way and pass cleanly for the lead. But after getting wrecked by Keselowski, Kenseth lost his temper and put Logano into the fence, much like Gordon did with Bowyer when he lost his temper in Phoenix in 2012.

In the aftermath of the Phoenix incident, Gordon was fined $100,000 and placed on probation -- for all of one race. He was also fined 25 driver points and team owner Rick Hendrick was docked 25 owner points. Gordon was not suspended. 

NASCAR was more severe in dealing with Kyle Busch after he wrecked Ron Hornaday Jr. in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in late 2011.

Busch was parked for the remainder of the weekend, forcing him to miss the NASCAR XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series races at Texas. It was the first time since NASCAR parked Robby Gordon in 2007 that a driver was suspended for a Cup race for actions taken in a lower series race.

NASCAR is expected to rule on a Kenseth penalty Tuesday.

Busch, meanwhile, had some pointed comments about NASCAR discipline following his fifth-place finish at Martinsville on Sunday.

Asked about Kenseth's actions, Busch said, "Did he do anything wrong? I don't know. Did he do anything right? I don't know.  I think it all depends on whose name's above the door on whether or not you're allowed to do it."

Busch was then asked if NASCAR needed to curtail the rough driving.

"It's boys being boys right now," Busch said. "You got to be consistent. I definitely feel NASCAR is very consistent in being inconsistent on calls. I think it's BS. I say, 'They better,' but they don't have to listen to me for squat. Really doesn't matter what I say."



share story