Nascar Racing

After Martinsville Damage Assessment from a NASCAR Fan’s View


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Once again Martinsville, the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit, became the biggest for drama, tempers, excitement and intensity. A lot happened in the 500 laps around the .526 mile oval that possibly changed the entire outlook for the finale in three weeks at Homestead. The damage done to several of the possible contenders for the Cup Championship may or may not be able to be undone – only the next two races before the finale will tell the story.

It isn’t news to anyone that Jeff Gordon won his first race of the 2015 season and also is now one of the four that will be racing for the Cup Championship in three weeks at Homestead. This fan congratulates him for that. It also isn’t news of how he was able to do exactly that or that Matt Kenseth took the opportunity to give a little payback to Joey Logano for his actions at Kansas, along with things that happened at Martinsville. What is news is that people are still talking about it and NASCAR has made a decision about Kenseth’s actions as I write this but their decision doesn’t change mine at all. In fact, even though it might sound quite severe, it is fairly non consequential and its effect is not far reaching. (In case you haven’t heard, they suspended Kenseth for the next two races and put him on probation for six months.)

I have found it quite interesting to follow all (or at least most) of the talking heads since the incident and how they viewed Kenseth’s actions and how they think it is time for NASCAR to make a statement with some kind of severe punishment for him. They’ve found it difficult to believe that the fans don’t readily agree with them and many of the quick polls I have seen are quite in favor of Kenseth’s actions with Logano. I wrote about what actions I thought Kenseth might take in my article called “Kansas Damage Assessment” a couple of days after Kansas.

I’m sure the talking heads and “expert commentators” will have mixed emotions about NASCAR’s decision and punishment. I would even venture to say they won’t think NASCAR went far enough but even that doesn’t bother me or change my opinion either. What I do find fascinating from the commentators is how they think Logano’s move at Kansas was perfectly okay and that Kenseth’s seeming payback at Martinsville was completely out of place. They use as their explanation of those statements the fact that at Kansas Logano and Kenseth were racing for the win and at Martinsville, Kenseth was many laps down.

Although it is true Kenseth was about nine laps down at the time he and Logano had their on track “disagreement,” they seem to overlook how Matt once again got that many laps down. There was a team Penske thing going on at all of the restarts once both Penske teams got on the front row. Kenseth decided to try and stick to Logano’s bumper and break up the team effort of Keselowski and Logano for the restarts. Unfortunately, it did appear that Brad K did take Kenseth out although I’m not sure it was intentional. As some have said, that lit the fuse which led to the final result. Personally, I prefer to say it re-lit the fuse and everything together caused the explosion of emotion which ultimately led to the surprise but not unexpected result. (Well, at least it wasn’t unexpected by this NASCAR fan.)

When it happened I tweeted my opinion at the time and it really hasn’t changed at all because it is this fan’s opinion that I think what happened was mostly justified. Here’s what I tweeted: “So… it’s okay for Logano to take Kenseth out and ruin his championship hopes but not okay for Kenseth to do the same…” From the sound of the cheering crowd in the stands, it appeared they agreed much more with Kenseth’s actions than Logano’s loss.

Yes, I admit it was a bit emotional at the time but I do have my reasons. When the first incident happened at Kansas, I couldn’t believe how the talking heads took up for Logano’s actions and saw nothing wrong with it. They had the immediate and opposite reaction to Kenseth’s actions at Martinsville. Look, I used to race stock cars at our local tracks and I won my share of races and championships and lost my share too. I am very familiar with this statement I heard in my racing days although it was never directed at me in particular. That statement was, “Look buddy, I tried you high and I tried you low and then it was time for you to go.” (Of course, that’s the edited version because I prefer to keep my ‘G’ rating here on my sites.) I suppose Logano could use that example as his excuse if he wanted but this fan still thinks his actions were unwarranted.

Understand that I do understand what and why Logano did what he did but I also know that his actions eliminated Kenseth from the Chase for the Championship. If, as so many of the commentators have said, Logano clearly had the faster car why didn’t he wait to pass him without putting him out? If he had done that there would have been no need for retribution. If he was clearly faster as the heads stated, there was no need to take the action he took. As it was, he made the choice to put Kenseth out rather than continue to battle him for the lead. Choices like that often lead to hard feelings and we all know he sounded quite arrogant when he talked about the move afterwards – even Dale Jr. stated that in an interview.

As I said earlier, NASCAR has doled out the punishment to Kenseth and pretty much left the situation alone for the moment. It is this fan’s opinion their response was necessary but also guarded in the sense that they could say they did something about it. Not everyone will be happy about it on either side but who cares; after all, this IS NASCAR.

I still disagree with the commentators and their view of the accident. In listening to the replays of the incident, I suppose they called it as they saw it but I saw and heard something they never mentioned. They were too busy calling it payback (which it was) and never made mention that Logano pulled down into Kenseth. Even Logano’s spotter repeated several times, “He’s still inside, he’s still inside – still inside!!” Funny… I’ve never heard any of them mention that part of it at all…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 4, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.