The NASCAR penalty hammer came down once again, this time on the head of Joe Gibbs Racing‘s newest driver Matt Kenseth. Kenseth was the dominant driver all day at the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. He led from the pole position off the first restart and besides some hiccups he led the most laps. This was Kenseth’s second win of the year for him with his new team and crew chief Jason Ratcliff.
When NASCAR officials looked over Matt’s car in post race inspection the engine was found to be off by 3 grams of weight. This violation of NASCAR code led to a huge list of harsh penalties. The biggest ones being a 50 point docking of Kenseth in the Sprint Cup standings and Ratcliff being fined $200,000, suspended for six weeks and put on probation until 2014.
This penalty brought Kenseth crashing down to 14th in the standings and also lost him the three bonus Chase for the Sprint Cup points garnered from traveling to victory lane. While this is a blow to his team this by no means takes him out of Sprint Cup contention. If he can pull out a couple more solid finishes he can get back to the top 10.
After all, Brad Keselowski showed this week that even if you get some penalties there is no reason you can’t come out swinging. The reigning champion’s sixth-placed finish was akin to a win after the rough week and race he had. Bad Brad is now sitting comfortably back in third place in the standings and ready to challenge old foe Jimmie Johnson once more.
So don’t count out Kenseth by any means. Though he may be one of the most quiet and calm NASCAR drivers he still knows how to get it done out on the track. We should expect him to make a statement out on the track Sunday at Richmond International Raceway.