Matt Kenseth was clearly the car to beat in Kansas last weekend, winning the pole, leading the most laps, and finishing in victory lane for his second win of the season. Kenseth became the third straight winner from the pole position, something that has not happened since 1985.
However, in post race inspection, Kenseth would be found to have illegal connecting rods in the engine. NASCAR released an official statement:
“The No. 20 car was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-5.5.3 (E) (Only magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525.0 grams will be permitted; connecting rod failed to meet the minimum connecting rod weight) of the 2013 rule book.”
The penalties were the harshest NASCAR has ever put and their message was clear…don’t push the limits. If we find you, you will pay the price and possibly miss the chase because of it.
Here is a list of the penalties imposed:
1. A $200,000 fine;
2. A six-race suspension for crew chief Jason Ratcliff, and probation till Dec. 31st;
3. A 50-point penalty, plus loss of Kansas bonus points, for both Kenseth in the driver standings and team owner Joe Gibbs in the owner standings;
4. The race win will not count toward the ‘wild card’ playoff spot;
5. Gibbs himself will have his owner’s license suspended for the next six Sprint Cup points events, meaning he and the team will receive no championship points over that span;
6. Kenseth’s Kansas pole will not count toward eligibility in the 2014 Sprint unlimited shootout at Daytona;
7. Toyota will lose five points in the manufacturers’ championship standings.
This comes just a week after Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were hit with major penalties that are being appealed, with a hearing scheduled for May 1st.
Back to the Kansas race, Kenseth was able to hold off Kasey Kahne after the final caution flew with 47 laps left. Kenseth pitted, taking only two tires and edging Martin Truex out of the pits. Kahne and Kenseth would battle the final few laps, but Kahne was never able to make the car stick down low and Kenseth would pull away from him on the straightaways, putting him back in victory lane, just like last October in Kansas.
Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. appeared to have a shot at the win, but pitted with several other lead cars including Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Biffle, right before the caution flew for debris for Keselowski’s car. Keselowski has sustained early damage and the bumper was barely hanging on before flying off the car, bringing out the final caution of the day.
Jimmie Johnson would finish third, followed by Truex and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top five.
***DID YOU KNOW***
Kyle Busch wrecked his car on Sunday after spinning in two separate incidences, the second proving the end of his day and collecting Joey Logano in the process. Busch was already in a back-up car after a wreck during practice, he also crashed out of the truck race the day before. Did you know…Busch has never posted a top 5 finish in any series at Kansas and only has two top tens in twelve starts in a cup car there.
*** RICHMOND ON DECK ***
The series moves back to Saturday night racing in Richmond, VA. Hometown driver Denny Hamlin will not start the race, like he was hoping for. Hamlin is still recovering for an injury suffered at California a few weeks ago. Brian Vickers will grab the wheel again this week for Hamlin in the Fed-Ex Toyota. Richmond has four active drivers that have each won three times: Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Johnson and Terry Labonte. Last weeks crystal ball proved to be my worst pick of the season with Tony Stewart. This week, another pick not on the radar by most. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will win his first race of the season, JR nation will rejoice and look to get back to back wins at Talladega next week.