Let’s talk about wrecking.
It’s been a part of racing since horsepower actually referred to a means of conveyance powered by, you know, a horse. Fast forward one thousand years and Dale Earnhardt made quite a career out of putting the bumper to his competitors, en route to seven Winston Cups. And, of course, who can forget the most iconic quote from the 1990 classic Days of Thunder: “No, no, he didn’t slam you, he didn’t bump you, he didn’t nudge you. He rubbed you. And rubbin, son, is racin’.”
And then there was Kansas this past weekend. Joey Logano put the right front bumper to Matt Kenseth’s left rear corner and turned him around with less than five laps to go. Oh yeah, Kenseth was leading at the time. Logano went on to take his second-straight win. Logano was already locked into the third round of The Chase and the Kansas win was just piling on.
For his part, Kenseth needed the win since he finished 42nd in the first race of this round of The Chase at Charlotte. He will need a win at Talladega this weekend to keep his championship hopes alive.
And if I had to guess, the wreck will keep either man from winning the championship. Kenseth won’t move on to the next round and he will wreck Logano at some point over the next round that will keep him out of the finale at Homestead.
“To me, strategically, that didn’t seem like such a great decision for (Logano) but it’s the one he made and that’s how he wanted to win,” Kenseth said. “I’ve actually been one of his biggest fans, certainly not anymore.”
Let me translate. In racing speak that means, “I am going to wreck his @$$ first chance I get.”
I get wanting to win. It’s why everyone lines up to race. You know winning, better than losing. But Logano had nothing to gain by winning at Kansas. He had already advanced to the next round with the win at Charlotte. He did nothing by dumping Kenseth other than ensuring that the No. 20 Toyota becomes a bright yellow impediment to his next race win. Just look at what Jimmie Johnson did to Kevin Harvick in the same race. Johnson, as you know, was knocked out of championship contention after round one. He and Harvick had a little tiff in the first Chase race. Harvick had a chance to get a lap back with the wave around, but Johnson, as the race leader, didn’t pit, nullifying any car from getting the free pass. Payback isn’t always served up with a bumper, but, nonetheless, hurt the defending champ’s chances to improve his position late in the running.
I like Logano’s attitude. He has spent a lot of time in the Sprint Cup Series getting pushed around. But the bravado may come back to haunt him.
“That was good, hard racing,” Logano said. “We race each other really hard. I feel like I got fenced twice down the straightaways. He raced me hard so I raced him hard back. It’s just hard racing. That’s the way I race. If I get raced like that I’ll race the same way.”
Should be interesting when the series goes to Martinsville.
Andy Cagle writes a weekly column about NASCAR. Follow him on Twitter @Andy_Cagle.