No regrets for Logano, Kenseth in aftermath of wreck and suspension

(Getty Images Photo) By REID SPENCER

FORT WORTH, Texas – Joey Logano believes he did the right thing when he turned Matt Kenseth at Kansas Speedway in the fifth race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

For his part, Kenseth says he won’t change the way he races, despite a two-event suspension he incurred for dumping Logano last Sunday at Martinsville, a clear case of retaliation for the incident at Kansas, where the drivers were racing for the win in the closing laps.

“I’m confident in the decisions that we’ve made,” Logano said on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, the site of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

“I’m confident in the decisions I made as a driver and the decisions we made as a team. That was a racing thing what happened at Kansas… I thought about it, and it’s a decision you make and you think about how you handle every situation and that is not the way you want to see a race end in Kansas that day.

“You want to battle it out all the way to the end. You don’t want to see that happen but when I looked at it, the more I looked at it, it was just a racing thing. It just happened. It was unfortunate, but I would understand if it happened to me. Like I have been saying, he was racing for the win and doing what he had to do and knew the chances and risk he was taking, I would assume. From my point of view, I would, if I was driving the car.”

Right or not, Logano’s actions at Kansas were not without consequences. After a wreck that left him out of contention at Martinsville, Kenseth turned the tables, driving Logano into the Turn 1 wall and putting his chances of advancing to the Chase’s Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway in dire jeopardy.

On Tuesday, NASCAR suspended Kenseth for two races, a penalty that was appealed twice by Joe Gibbs Racing and upheld each time. In a statement, however, Kenseth wasn’t apologetic.

“I’m not going to change who I am,” Kenseth. “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 a long time, and 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 racetrack that I feel like I deserve.

“So I’m looking forward to going to Homestead (after serving the suspension) and hopefully going there to get a win before the year’s out.”

JEFF GORDON PONIES UP AT TEXAS

You can count on Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage to go over the top in just about everything he does—and that includes honoring Jeff Gordon, who is retiring from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the end of the season.

After Gordon took the dais in the Texas Motor Speedway media center, Gossage presented the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet with a gift that was still on the hoof—a pair of Shetland ponies for Gordon’s daughter Ella and son Leo.

“Scout” and “Smokey” were delivered to Gordon in the media center, prompting a stunned response from the four-time premier series champion.

“Are you out of your mind?” Gordon exclaimed. “Are you out of your mind? Oh, my God, Eddie, you have no idea what you just did to me.”

“Yes, I do,” Gossage replied.

The ponies were the highlight of the speedway’s tribute, which also included a pair of custom boots, a street sign replicating the one on TMS property that bears Gordon’s name and a mural commemorating his 2009 victory at the 1.5-mile track.

“With all due respect to drivers like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Jeff is perhaps the most important driver in NASCAR history,” Gossage said. “He was the most transformative driver our sport has seen. He won races and championships while changing the perception of people around the globe about NASCAR race car drivers.

“He successfully guest-hosted shows like ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘Live with Regis and Kelly,’ introducing a whole new audience to racing. It’s no coincidence our sport enjoyed unprecedented growth during his prime years. Jeff is a champion in every way.”

SHORT STROKES

NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next alum Darrell Wallace Jr. hit the wall with his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford during Friday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice. Because of the resulting damage, Wallace will drive a backup car in Saturday’s race… Homestead-Miami Speedway announced on Friday that the Ford EcoBoost 400, the Nov. 22 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Round event, has sold out for the second straight year. The race is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on NBC… NASCAR and 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division announced a five-year extension to their long-standing Official Partnership. As part of the agreement, 3M Automotive Aftermarket will continue its nearly two-decade Sprint Cup Series contingency sponsorship that provides many of its innovative automotive products and solutions used in race cars and race shops throughout NASCAR, and collaborate with the NASCAR R&D Center to integrate them.