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NASCAR: Kenseth's appeal against suspension fails

Matt Kenseth will miss the next two Sprint Cup races at Texas and Phoenix after failing to overturn his suspension for wrecking Joey Logano.
Matt Kenseth has lost his appeals against a two-race suspension, meaning that he will now definitely have to sit out this weekend's event at Texas Motor Speedway as well as next week's race at Phoenix International Raceway.

"Obviously, I'm more than a little disappointed with the decision and the penalties to start with," Kenseth said after the verdict was handed down. "I feel like I was unfairly made the example instead of knowing where the line is, what the penalties are."

Kenseth was handed the penalty on Tuesday after an incident that took place late in Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway, which saw the Joe Gibbs Racing driver take out Penske's Joey Logano apparently as retribution for a clash between the pair the previous month in Kansas that had contributed to Kenseth losing his place in this year's Chase championship play-offs.

Kenseth had also been angered by the way that Penske tactics between Logano and his team mate Brad Keselowski at the head of the field had contributed to another accident on Sunday that wrecked Kenseth's chances of a good finish again. Kenseth was able to stay out on track in a badly damaged car just long enough to target Logano and pile-drive him into the wall in turn 1.

NASCAR explained that the reason for the unprecedented two-race ban was because of the dangerous nature of Kenseth's retaliation, and because it involved someone no longer in the title hunt taking out one of the remaining eight contenders.

"I'm the first driver in the 65-year history of NASCAR to get suspended for an incident that happened in the Sprint Cup Series race," Kenseth pointed out.

"Our reason for appealing is we felt like this penalty was kind of unprecedented and it was inconsistent with a number of other on-track incidents," said team owner Joe Gibbs. "One of those is exactly like this one, and yet this penalty against Matt is an unprecedented one.

"That guy right there has spent 20 years in this sport. He had one other minor infraction, I think it was a $5,000 fine," Gibbs continued. "He has spent 20 years of his life racing in this sport and he's been great for NASCAR."

Kenseth exercised his two-stage round of appeal against the suspension, which began with a hearing before a three-person panel of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel on Thursday morning at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.

Evidence from both NASCAR and JGR was heard in turn by Ken Clapp, NASCAR's vice president of marketing development until his retirement in 1999; Bill Mullis, a former driver and the owner of Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia.; and Dale Pinilis, longtime operator of historic Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Once the Panel decided that it was right to penalise Kenseth and upheld the two-race suspension and six-month probation, the expedited appeals process moved to the final stage in which both put their case in a joint session with National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss during the afternoon.

After listening to the arguments from both sides, Moss confirmed the two-race penalty although he did reduce Kenseth's probation period from six months until the end of 2015. The 2003 Cup champion will be able to return to competition in time for the season finale on November 22.

"I'm extremely disappointed but we'll get through this," said Kenseth. "Look forward to going to Homestead ... Hopefully going there and getting a win before the year is out.

"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, and I feel like I'm going to continue to have the respect on the race track that I feel like I deserve."

"I appreciate getting the chance to go through this process," said a disappointed Joe Gibbs. "I think we've done all we can do, and we're going to go back to racing."

JGR's development driver and current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Erik Jones will now sit in for Kenseth at Texas in the #20. Jones made his official Sprint Cup début for the team in May at Kansas subbing for the injured Kyle Busch in the #18 car, although he'd already taken over the wheel of the #11 mid-race at Bristol Motor Speedway the previous month when Denny Hamlin suffered neck spasms shortly after the start of the race.

Hauler problems for two teams en route to Texas

The long trip to Texas Motor Speedway for this weekend's AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup and O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Xfinity Series events has seen issues for two team haulers.

First, the Richard Petty Motorsport hauler was involved in a road accident on Wednesday morning in Louisiana. The hauler was carrying equipment for the Xfinity Series #43 car of driver Dakoda Armstrong. It was unclear from the release whether anyone else had been involved in the accident. The hauler itself sustained some damage and the team dispatched another tractor to pick it up and continue to Texas in time for this weekend's race.

"All of our employees, but especially our transport drivers, value the safety of all motorists on the road," said Brian Moffitt, RPM's chief executive officer.

There were also problems for the HScott Motorsports trailer, which caught fire while on its way to Texas on Thursday morning. Michael Dennis Smith, who was driving the trailer on Interstate 20 in East Texas, told a local news station that neither he nor his passenger suffered any injuries during the incident.

Smith had been hauling two NASCAR Sprint Cup cars for Michael Annett in preparation for the racing weekend at Texas. The team took to twitter to reassure fans that the incident would not affect the team's ability to take part in this weekend's race.



Related Pictures

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Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, races Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 25, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, spins as Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, races by during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 18, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 5, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Brian Vickers, driver of the #14 Janssen Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation Chevrolet SS, finishes in seventh place, Sunday April 3, 2016, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, VA (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place, Sunday April 3, 2016, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, VA (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #14 Target Chevrolet SS, finishes in third place, Sunday April 3, 2016, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, VA (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Butterfinger/Coffeemate Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place, Sunday April 3, 2016, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, VA (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, leads Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 2, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 1, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, races to his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career win with a victory lap and checkered flag, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman for Chevy Racing)

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