As you all saw in my post from earlier in the week, the big talk of the week was the incident between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano. It was the discussion on every news platform that covers NASCAR, and was the talk of all fans once the checkered flag waved.
Everyone was asking what would be the cost, and if it was worth it.
On Tuesday evening, NASCAR handed down their findings and have decided to give Kenseth some time to think about what his actions were and if they were worth the consequences.
Per NASCAR media release, Kenseth violated rules 12.1 and 12.8 of the rule book, which constitutes a Behavioral Penalty. Kenseth has been suspended for the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races (Texas and Phoenix) and has also been put on probation for the next six months, which will encompass the remainder of the calendar year and continue through the first three months of the 2016 season.
“Based upon our extensive review, we have concluded that the No. 20 car driver, who is no longer in the Chase, intentionally wrecked the No. 22 car driver, a Chase-eligible competitor who was leading the race at the time,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “The No. 20 car was nine laps down, and eliminated the No. 22 car’s opportunity to continue to compete in the race.
“Additionally, we factored aspects of safety into our decision, and also the fact that the new Chase elimination format puts a premium on each and every race. These actions have no place in NASCAR.”
This is the first time a driver has been suspended at NASCAR’s highest level, excluding the substance abuse policy, since Kyle Busch was suspended at Texas a few years ago for another on-track incident.
After Kenseth and Logano’s wreck, Kenseth would not admit he intentionally wrecked his competitor. However, video evidence seems to point a different direction. NASCAR also used audio from the team to come to a decision.
Joe Gibbs Racing will appeal the penalty, specifically the severity of the penalty handed down. As of this moment, no replacement driver has been announced for the No. 20 Toyota for Texas and Phoenix.
Joe Gibbs Racing will go before the three-person appeals panel on Thursday beginning at 9 a.m.
They are specifically appealing the length of the penalty handed down to Kenseth of two races, along with the six-month probation period. Their basis on the appeal is past incidents where a driver intentionally wrecked a competitor, but handed down fines and probation, and in some instances only being suspended for one weekend.
No substitute driver has been announced for the No. 20, and likely will not be until after the appeal is heard along with the findings of the panel.
On Thursday, Joe Gibbs Racing went before the appeals panel to possibly lessen or remove the suspension that NASCAR levied onto Kenseth.
The appeal was heard by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel beginning at 9 a.m. and following the testimony from NASCAR and JGR, the panel upheld that decision. The panel, consisting of Bill Mullis, Ken Clapp, and Dale Pinilis, felt that NASCAR acted within their right based on the evidence they had.
Immediately after that ruling, JGR filed a final appeal with the National Motorsports Final Appeal board. Appeals Officer Bryan Moss heard testimony and announced at the NASCAR Research and Development Center that the decision by NASCAR will be upheld, meaning Kenseth will not be at the next two Sprint Cup races at Texas and Phoenix.
Moss’ decision on the matter is final, with the final burden of proof falling on Kenseth, whereas the burden of proof fell on NASCAR in the initial ruling.
Kenseth’s probation period went from being six months, which would have been through the first three months of the 2016 season, to the end of the calendar year. Kenseth will return to the seat of his No. 20 Toyota at the season-finale event at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22.