The debate over Logano-Kenseth clash continues |

The debate over Logano-Kenseth clash continues

Roger Diez

Matt Kenseth came close to locking into the Eliminator Round of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship at Kansas last Sunday. Unfortunately, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Kenseth led the most laps, garnering two extra points, but points were not what he needed. He needed the win, and was denied in the closing laps in a controversial move by Joey Logano. The garage and the fans are buzzing about the pros and cons of it, but the basic facts are Logano was faster at that point in the race. Kenseth did what he had to do, which was to block Joey, and Logano did what he had to do, which was move Matt out of the way. Kenseth was lucky he didn’t hit anything when he spun from the contact, but his day was pretty much ruined.

The incident just shows how this Chase format has ratcheted up the intensity level. Logano already had a win in this round, and guaranteed to advance. But Kenseth is a serious threat to take all the marbles if he can get to Homestead, so keeping him from moving on is a long-term strategy move. I’m not saying that was Logano’s intention, but it certainly worked out that way. In any case, if Matt had been fast enough to keep Joey from getting to his rear bumper, things would have turned out differently.

So it’s on to Talladega this weekend, the biggest wild card in the whole Chase. Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are both in a must win situation unless everybody else in the Chase crashes out on lap one. Which, at Talladega, is not a completely unlikely scenario. But given Junior’s prowess at restrictor plate tracks, he’s the most likely of the pair to take the checker and move on to the next round. Of course, the famed Talledega “Big One” could knock out the championship hopes of nearly any of the drivers still in the Chase, with the exception of Logano.

Formula One is in the good old USA this weekend, deep in the heart of Texas at the Circuit of the Americas. It will be the fourth U.S. Grand Prix to be held at the venue, and thus far only two drivers have posted victories there. Lewis Hamilton won in 2012 and 2014, with Sebastian Vettel taking the win in 2013. Interestingly, Vettel’s win came with his former team, Red Bull, and Hamilton’s first victory was with McLaren. Including the last U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2007, Hamilton has three victories on U.S. soil, two for McLaren and one for Mercedes. If he wins Sunday, it’s going to break a tie with F1 legends Graham Hill and Jim Clark, and put him just one U.S. win behind Michael Schumacher.

If Hamilton does win Sunday and Vettel finishes anywhere below second place, the 2015 F1 drivers’ championship is Hamilton’s. Mercedes clinched the Manufacturers’ title in Russia two weeks ago, so it’s be a banner year for the team. Not so much for Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg, however, who needs at least a win or two in the remaining four races to boost his morale and self-confidence. It has to be frustrating for a driver to be competing in equal equipment and have your teammate better you consistently. Not that Rosberg has had a terrible season, with three poles and three wins. That’s a record many drivers would kill for.

Finally, in response to questions about post-race victory burnouts by winning drivers, NASCAR recently issued a statement on the rules for the burnouts. “There aren’t any.”