It’s one thing to get beaten on the track, it’s another thing to be beaten by the rule book.
Just ask Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion.
Kenseth qualified third for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, where he ran a strong race and appeared set to advance to Round 3 of the Cup playoffs.
On Lap 198 of the 267-lap race, Erik Jones lost control of his Furniture Row Racing Toyota on the backstretch, triggering a 14-car crash that snared Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Kenseth’s car suffered significant damage, which put it on the 5-minute crash clock. Under caution, Kenseth brought the car down pit road, where his JGR crew jumped into action.
Unfortunately, seven crew members went over the wall, instead of the permitted six. That was a violation of NASCAR’s Damaged Vehicle Policy, with the mandated penalty being immediate disqualification.
Instead of moving on in the playoffs in his final season with Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth’s title hopes are over with a 37th-place finish. And with no confirmed ride for 2018, it was an especially bitter blow.
“I don’t know what any of the rules are,” said Kenseth. “Seems like we got a lot of stuff that kind of gets, you know, changed so often I honestly can’t keep up with it. My head kind of spins from putting lugnuts out of pit boxes to one too many guys over the wall, you’re not allowed to race anymore.
“I just don’t get it to be honest with you,” he said. “I really don’t have a lot good to say right now. I’m more than disappointed. … We showed some flashes of brilliance this season, been off and on, been fast at times, had great pit stops at times, just haven’t been able to put it all together like a championship team needs to. Unfortunately this is an example of that. I hope that I can do a better job here the next four weeks and hopefully go get a win.”