HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — NASCAR chairman Brian France is not backing away from his definition of “quintessential” racing, which he believes strongly is two drivers making contact while battling for a victory.
He first used the term “quintessential NASCAR” in praising the way Joey Logano raced Matt Kenseth in the closing laps at Kansas last month. Kenseth blocked Logano, and Logano spun Kenseth out of his way to snatch a victory that Kenseth needed to avoid elimination from the playoffs.
France on Friday likened Logano’s move to the way Brad Keselowski used an aggressive charge on Jeff Gordon last year at Texas. Keselowski and Gordon made contact racing for the win and Gordon’s tire was cut. There was brawl afterward on pit road.
“That’s (the racing) quintessential NASCAR, late in the race, wham, they’re going at it,” France said. “You’ve got to understand, that’s us. That’s what we do. That’s what those guys do.”
So he had no issue with Logano’s racing at Kansas. What did bother France, though, was when Kenseth retaliated at Martinsville.
Kenseth returned a wrecked race car to the track and intentionally crashed Logano, the leader, in a move that ultimately denied Logano a spot in Sunday’s title-deciding field. Kenseth was suspended for two races and returned this week.
Several drivers have complained that the sequence — Logano spinning Kenseth, then Kenseth retaliating and NASCAR suspending him — has blurred the lines of what’s acceptable on-track etiquette.
France said not a single driver has asked for a clarification.
“The reason that they don’t ask is that they know,” France said. “They know that circumstances late in the race, blocking — although I’m not a fan of blocking, that is part of racing — contact, the short end of some of those exchanges that happen are all part of it and do not look to NASCAR to deal with that. They are part of racing.
“The line is if you intentionally … banzai-ing into some situation with the sole purpose of taking somebody out, we’ll deal with that. We dealt with that at Martinsville.”
The championship will be decided Sunday when reigning champion Kevin Harvick races Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. in a winner-take-all event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. France wants the four of them to race hard and clean.
“We’re not going to react to anything that is a traditional part of hard, aggressive racing,” France said. “There is going to be contact. I would always expect it. I don’t expect people to turn people around, that’s not what we mean when we say contact, but sometimes it happens.”
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