The feud between NASCAR stars Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano, which started during last fall’s Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway, apparently isn’t finished.
Kenseth accused Logano of running him off the track during Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
He then gave Logano a piece of his mind in a finger-wagging exchange outside the infield care center a few laps later when both drivers were collected in one of several multi-car wrecks during the demolition-derby of a race.
Logano, who smiled and nodded during the brief encounter, wouldn’t go into the details of the conversation.
When asked what Kenseth said to him, Logano replied, “Not much. It’s unfortunate.”
Later, Logano said that if Kenseth is upset with him, “He can get in line with the rest of them.”
Both drivers are two-time Sprint Cup winners at Kansas Speedway, which hosts the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Toyota Tundra 250 at 7:30 p.m. Friday and the Sprint Cup Go Bowling 400 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Racing in a massive pack of cars, a hallmark of restrictor-plate racing at the 2.66-mile tri-oval in Alabama, Logano appeared to force Kenseth off the track and onto the apron down the backstretch during the latter stages of the race.
The cars were running four- or five-wide across the track when Kenseth and Logano came together, sending Kenseth below the double-yellow line.
“We got behind a little bit there and I went to pass (Logano) and he ran me off the race track and lost four or five spots and then got us back there where we didn’t want to be,” said Kenseth, a teammate of Carl Edwards’ for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Driving below those lines to advance one’s position can incur a pass-through penalty, forcing a driver to come down pit road under green-flag racing, but NASCAR reviewed video of the encounter and determined Kenseth was forced down.
Neither driver was penalized, but it cost both of them precious track position, which put Kenseth (and Logano) in position to get collected when Danica Patrick lost control of her car a few laps later.
She got loose and rammed Kenseth, sending him airborne and skidding along the infield wall upside down.
“Somebody must have gotten turned out of the top lane and just collected me,” Kenseth said. “I was just going straight and saw a car come from the right side and cleaned our clock.”
He made it clear that he didn’t blame Patrick — who suffered bruises to her chest, arm and foot after she also slammed into the SAFER barrier on the infield wall in what she called the worst crash of her career — and instead cast Logano as the troublemaker.
“I don’t think he ran me off,” Kenseth said. “He did run me off. He ran me so far down I couldn’t really lift. I couldn’t back up the track. It looked like there was no penalty, and we kept racing.”
The imbroglio started during last fall’s Hollywood Casino 400 when Logano spun out Kenseth, who was leading the race at the time, with five laps remaining and went on to claim the checkered flag.
Logano defended his actions at Kansas Speedway, calling it “good, hard racing.”
Kenseth, who was forced to settle for 14th-place finish, had been aggressively blocking Logano for at least 10 laps.
It was understandable, given that Kenseth was in a must-win position to advance from the Chase for the Sprint Cup Contender Round, but Logano’s patience wore thin and the two made contact, ruining Kenseth’s day.
“I raced hard, because my team works hard and they expect that out of me,” Logano said during a post-race interview last fall. “As a racer — they’re all racers, as well — they expect their driver to go to battle in those situations. That’s my job and, if I lifted in that situation like I did down the backstretch, if I did that twice, I’m not sure my team would be too proud to work for someone like that.”
Kenseth didn’t see it that way and retaliated two weeks later at Martinsville Speedway. He was nine laps down when he intentionally wrecked the Roger Penske-owned No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil ride and drove it into the wall, effectively ending Logano’s title hopes.
Kenseth was suspended for two races, an unprecedented penalty for an on-track incident, for those actions.
Logano called Kenseth “a complete coward” and the wreck a “chicken you-know-what move” after the race, but NASCAR made the two drivers meet and hash things out three weeks later at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The two spoke again during the NASCAR Awards Banquet in Las Vegas and, while Kenseth defended his decision to T-bone Logano into the wall as recently as January, it seemed as if the hatchet had been buried.
“I thought we were done with that, but maybe we aren’t,” Kenseth said.
Logano, who led six laps late in Sunday’s race before getting caught up in the same 12-car melee that sent Kenseth on his roof, finished 25th, two spots behind Kenseth.
After starting fourth, Kenseth led 39 laps, second only to race-winner Brad Keselowski’s 46, so his hard-luck season added a new chapter with a 23rd-place finish.