Spin questions ‘Chase’ decorum

The Associated Press
Dave Skretta

KANSAS CITY, Kan.—Joey Logano scoffed at the seemingly unwritten rule that you don’t spin someone when you’re already guaranteed of advancing in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
After all, as he pointed out after sending fellow title contender Matt Kenseth for a ride at Kansas Speedway, “NASCAR does the rules. I just drive the race car.”
That attitude raised plenty of questions over “Chase” decorum, though.
Logano had won the opening race of the “contender” round at Charlotte so he had nothing to lose in Sunday’s race.
Kenseth had a miserable finish, meanwhile, and arrived at Kansas knowing he would need to win there or this coming weekend at Talladega to earn a spot in the next round.
Everything looked like it was playing out perfectly for him, too. Kenseth had his No. 20 Toyota at the front all day, leading a race-high 153 laps, and had a spot in the eight-driver “eliminator” round within sight with five laps to go.
But by that point, Logano had the faster car and had spent the last 10 laps glued firmly to his rear bumper.
Kenseth was doing everything he could to protect the lead and Logano finally got fed up with a series of blocks.
With a good run going into Turn 1, Logano stuck his nose under Kenseth’s rear fender—and one of the “Chase” favourites suddenly was sliding across the track.
“He ran me hard. I ran him hard back,” Logano explained. “Unfortunately, those things happen, right?
“It doesn’t take anything away from our team,” he stressed.
“I’m proud of what this team is doing.”
Kenseth tends to be low-key but the spin heard ’round NASCAR rubbed him the wrong way.
“He just plain wrecked me,” Kenseth charged.
“He [Logano] cries on his radio a lot, I guess, about blocking or moving around, but man, you’re leading the race and you can pick whatever lane you want,” Kenseth reasoned.
“It’s not like he was alongside me.
“To wreck somebody for being in a lane that you wanted to be in seems kind of risky and not very smart,” Kenseth added.
“That was a decision he made.”
It was risky in two entirely different ways.
For one thing, Logano could have spun himself out, too. But with a spot in the next round already assured, that hardly mattered.
More importantly, Logano risked irking other drivers with plenty of “Chase” races left.
He heads to unpredictable Talladega this weekend once more with nothing to lose, but things reset the following week at Martinsville.
Logano will have everything to lose as the “Chase” hits the homestretch while Kenseth—assuming he doesn’t win at Talladega to keep his own title hopes alive—will be the one who has nothing to lose.
In other words, Logano may have to watch his back the rest of the way.
In the aftermath of Sunday, two distinct camps emerged.
Some sided with Kenseth, claiming Logano made a move for the lead in the No. 22 that was aggressive at best, malicious at worst.
Others sided with Logano, arguing he was racing to win, taking the “have at ’em, boys” approach that NASCAR has encouraged the past few years.