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.