Matt Kenseth didn’t win his appeal Thursday of NASCAR’s two-race suspension, and will miss Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 and next week’s race at Phoenix.
Kenseth hoped to get his suspension reduced, citing how NASCAR punished drivers for similar incidents in the past. But the ban was upheld, although Kenseth did see his probation reduced from six months to the end of the season.
I’m the first driver in the 65-year history of NASCAR to get suspended for an [on-track] incident that happened in a Sprint Cup Series race. I felt I was unfairly made the example instead of knowing where the line is and what the penalties are.
Erik Jones, a 19-year-old who is leading the truck series points standings, will drive in place of Kenseth for Joe Gibbs Racing. Jones has made one previous start in a Cup race at Kansas in May.
NASCAR handed the harsh penalty to Kenseth after he intentionally wrecked Joey Logano on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. The incident served as Kenseth’s retaliation for Logano taking him out at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago.
But this has become a championship-altering wreck. Logano had been considered the favorite to win his first championship going into Martinsville after sweeping all three races in the third round.
And Logano was leading the Martinsville race at the time Kenseth pile-drove him into the Turn 1 wall, a move that has left Logano essentially in a spot where he must win one of the next two races to advance to the championship round. Kenseth, meanwhile, is out of championship contention and was 10 laps down at the time of the wreck.
“I’m obviously more than a little disappointed on the decision and the penalties to start with,” said Kenseth, a two-time winner at Texas who will see his 571 consecutive starts streak come to an end.
“I’m the first driver in the 65-year history of NASCAR to get suspended for an [on-track] incident that happened in a Sprint Cup Series race. I felt I was unfairly made the example instead of knowing where the line is and what the penalties are.
“I’m extremely disappointed, but we’ll get through this. I look forward to going to Homestead. I’m not going to change who I am. I am not going to change what I stand for. I’m not going to change how I race.”
Hauler catches fire
The two cars were for Cup driver Michael Annett, driver of the No. 46 Chevrolet.
“The No. 46 hauler caught fire today on the way to Texas Motor Speedway,” the team wrote on its page. “We lost two cars and at-track equipment. Happy to report everyone is safe. Hauler/cars will be on the way to TMS. The No. 46 [will] be on track of the NASCAR AAA Texas 500!”
The wreck occurred on Interstate 20 near mile marker 595 in Gregg County, according to reports.