So don't be bitchin'
First off, congrats to Jeff Gordon for winning today at Martinsville. It was Gordon's 9th win at the track and the 93rd overall for his career. Extra special is the fact that he locks himself into the final race for the Championship at Homestead in Miami at the end of this month. It would be a storybook ending to his legendary career to win a Championship title in his final season in the sport.
But Gordon was only able to secure the win because Matt Kenseth got a chance for retribution against Joey Logano and took it with enthusiasm, crashing Logano into the wall in the closing laps and putting them both out of the race.
Earlier in the year Logano had wrecked Kenseth who was trying to hold on for a win at Kansas. In NASCAR's new race format, wins are a premium since drivers can easily slip down in points and drop out of the elimination format. Obviously still seething over the fact that an easy win was denied him by Logano, who is developing a rep for being a bit of a jerk on the track, the usually mild-mannered Kenseth, already out of contention as Logano's teammate had wrecked him earlier in the race, took a pretty obvious payback move on Logano.
After the race, Kenseth mentioned that after being bulled over a few different times by Logano and Kesolewski, he had to take a stand or these guys would just keep walking all over him in the Chase races.
Like I said, NASCAR wanted this level of intensity in the Chase format, and they got it. They made every race practically a do-or-die situation. They've made the cars so similar it's impossible to get a definitive edge over one's competitors, so the racing is always close and tight and high spirited. The safety advances have made the cars so ridiculously safe that there can be massive wrecks and the likelihood that everyone walks away without a scratch is very high. So take the gloves off boys -- that was an actual instruction from NASCAR just a few short seasons ago. They wanted the drivers to be edgy and combative.
Like the 200 mph parking lot that NASCAR has created on the restrictor-plate tracks, NASCAR wants the big wreck -- either literally or figuratively. They know this thing between Kenseth and Logano will drive viewers to the races, so it is an ultimate win for them.
So any penalty that comes down from NASCAR for Joe Gibbs and Kenseth and his crew chief is going to be a bit hypocritical. They gave NASCAR exactly what they wanted. It'll be interesting how this plays itself out in the final three races.
Hat tip to my boy Tony Stewart. In the midst of a horrible season, Tony managed a top 10 win today. He's retiring at the end of the 2016 season, so anything half-way decent this year might hopefully lead to a respectable swan song year next season.