The payback had been brewing from an previous race when Joey Logano wrecked Matt Kenseth’s car, ending his title hopes. Team complaints to NASCAR proved futile as NASCAR chalked it up as ”quintessential” racing.
NASCAR races have become the stage where frustrated racers with grievances take each other out to send a message. The crowd loves it. And the commission turns a blind eye to such moves, creating a situation where revenge t-boning is more and more common. But NASCAR’s inconsistencies mean that racers can’t predict which moves lead to fines and suspensions and which moves are classified “accidental,” leading to tension among racers.
Defending champion Kevin Harvick blatantly sparked a wreck at Talladega that kept his repeat bid alive. NASCAR downplayed the situation, saying it couldn’t find any evidence that Harvick meant to do it.
During Sunday’s race, Kenseth delivered a crippling blow to Logano’s run toward a championship by clearly and intentionally pile-driving him into the wall at Martinsville. NASCAR officials suspended him for two races and denied his appeals.
But because NASCAR has let so many egregious violations slide, Kenseth felt that he was singled out. After all, NASCAR didn’t park Jeff Gordon in 2012 when he deliberately wrecked championship contender Clint Bowyer. Why should the rules change now?
Fox analyst Larry McReynolds had said during the Martinsville race, ‘’If NASCAR doesn’t drop the hammer hard on him, shame on them.”
While analyst McReynolds and others call for stricter penalties from NASCAR officials, the garage code encourages retaliation. Kenseth was due his retaliation for two weeks. Few were surprised he acted. In fact, Kenseth said he would have lost respect from his peers in the garage had he not retaliated.
Clearly female driver Danica Patrick felt the same way. She chased David Gilliland up the same Martinsville track Sunday to wreck him as payback for an earlier incident. Again, the crowd cheered. Patrick was fined $50,000 and docked 25 points but was not suspended after intentionally wrecking David Gilliland.
She was publicly not happy having to write a $50,000 check for her penalty, but she says she was doing what was right when she wrecked another driver in retaliation. ”(NASCAR) felt like they needed to do what they did, and as drivers out there, we do what we feel like we need to do,” Patrick said Saturday, during a press conference when Cup practices were canceled.
”When you’re racing, and you have to demand respect from somebody based on actions on track, I think that no matter what as a driver, you’re going to find yourself in a position to defend yourself,” she said. ”It’s racing. You’ve seen wrecks and retribution throughout all of history of racing.”
No one is calling for Patrick to be suspended, and few seem even the least bit bothered by her act. It’s business as usual at Nascar and the fans love it.