Appeals panel, Final Appeals Officer uphold Kenseth suspension
Nov. 5, 2015
NASCAR Wire Service
After two appeals and eight hours of deliberation, the punishment remained mostly the same for Matt Kenseth.
Both the National Motorsports Appeals Panel and the Final Appeals Officer ruled Thursday to uphold NASCAR’s two-race suspension of Kenseth for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano during last Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. The original penalty also included a six-month probation period, which was shortened to until the end of Dec. 31 following a ruling by Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss.
The appeals took place at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. The initial appeal, which was heard by a panel composed of Ken Clapp, former motorsports executive and promoter and current motorsports consultant; Bill Mullis, owner of Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia; and Dale Pinilis, longtime operator of Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, began at 9 a.m. ET. The panel issued its statement just prior to 12:30 p.m. ET, upholding NASCAR’s original penalty of a two-race suspension and a six-month probation period.
Kenseth opted to appeal that decision to Moss. The result remained mostly identical, with only his probation period decreased.
“I'm obviously more than a little disappointed with the decision and the penalties to start with,” Kenseth said. “I feel like I was unfairly made the example. … I'm not going to change who I am. I'm not going to change what I stand for. I'm not going to change how I race. I've been in this business for a long time. I feel like I've had a pretty good career to this point. I feel like I'm going to continue to have the respect on the race track that I feel like I deserve.”
The appeals came just four days after Kenseth appeared to intentionally wreck race leader Logano with less than 50 laps remaining in the 500-lap event – retribution for a perceived purposeful spin by Logano of the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion in the closing laps at Kansas Speedway two weeks prior.
With today’s rulings, Kenseth’s streak of 571 consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts will officially end. It was the second-longest active streak behind only Jeff Gordon, who set the all-time Iron Man record at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.
Joe Gibbs Racing has yet to announce Kenseth’s replacement in the No. 20 car for the next two races, at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.