Kenseth: Penalties “borderline shameful” in nature


Matt Kenseth pulled no punches in his first media availability after penalties were levied by NASCAR against he and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team following their win at Kansas.

“The penalties are unfair. It’s borderline shameful,” he said to open his comments in the media center.

The small oversight on engine builder TRD’s part meant the No. 20’s lighter connecting rod was approximately three grams underweight. For the infraction, crew chief Jason Ratcliff was suspended the next six races, Kenseth was docked 50 driver points and Gibbs 50 owner points plus the ability to earn owner points in the next six races.

The latter penalty is a brutal blow to Gibbs’ chances in the owner’s championship, especially given the No. 11 car driven by Denny Hamlin is already compromised with Hamlin out of the car and pressure on his injury replacements to match Hamlin’s results.

Kenseth continued his statements noting that while a mistake, for NASCAR to come down and crush his team like they did was substantially more than anticipated.

“There was no performance advantage, there was no intent. … To crush Joe Gibbs like that…it just blows me away,” he said. “Any knowledgeable, reputable, unbiased engine builder, they know there was no advantage there. It was a mistake.”

Teammate Denny Hamlin wasn’t happy, either, but that was with confirmation from doctors he’d be unable to at least start this weekend’s race in Richmond. He’ll be able to start at Talladega, then be pulled by a relief driver.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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