Matt Kenseth: ‘I was unfairly made the example’ with suspension
Matt Kenseth says he was “unfairly made the example” of with a two-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano last weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
Kenseth’s spoke Thursday after losing two separate appeals to overturn NASCAR’s two-race suspension handed to him earlier this week.
The suspension was upheld by Bryan Moss, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer. Kenseth will miss this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway and next weekend’s event at Phoenix International Raceway. He will be eligible to return for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“It didn’t turn out like we wanted. I’m obviously more than a little disappointed on the decision and the penalties to start with,” Kenseth said after the final hearing at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is the first Sprint Cup driver to be suspended for a Cup race due to actions on the track in a Cup event. According to NASCAR, Kenseth’s only previous penalty was a fine of $25,000 for a run in with Kevin Harvick at Pocono Raceway in June 2004.
The suspension means Kenseth’s streak of consecutive Sprint Cup starts will end at 571, which is second to Jeff Gordon among active drivers.
“I feel like I was unfairly made the example instead of knowing where the line is and what the penalties are,” Kenseth said. “I’m extremely disappointed, but we’ll get through this and go to Homestead.”
Kenseth says the penalty will not change anything for him.
“I’m not going to change who I am, not going to change what I stand for, I’m not going to change how I race,” Kenseth declared. “I’ve been in this business for a long time, I feel like I’ve had a pretty good career to this point, and I feel like I’m going to continue to have the respect on the race track I feel like I deserve.”
Joe Gibbs, Kenseth’s team owner, called the failure to get the suspension overturned “extremely disappointing.”
“I just want to say that that guy right there has spent 20 years in this sport,” Gobbs said of Kenseth, who made his first Cup start at Dover International Speedway in September 1998. “He’s spent 20 years of his life racing in this sport and he’s been great for NASCAR.”
Gibbs went on to call the penalty inconsistent with those NASCAR has levied in the past.
“Our reason for appealing is we felt like this penalty was kind of unprecedented and it was inconsistent with a number of other on-track incidents,” Gibbs said. “One of those is exactly like this one. And yet, this penalty against Matt is an unprecedented one.”