Oh, what a delicious little bit of irony if you’re a Joey Logano fan. Late race misfortune for Matt Kenseth (in case you missed it) brings good fortune to Joey Logano. The result? Logano wins the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix and punches his ticket to compete for a championship. Kenseth, who appeared to have the race in the bag, misses out on his chance to contend with JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards for the 2016 Chase crown.
What a different scene from 2015. Contact from Logano at Kansas sends Kenseth into a spin, on the former’s path to victory (click for video). At Martinsville, the 2003 champion plows Logano, ending his 2015 title hopes (click for video). Now, the tables have turned.
The focus here is not who was at fault in any of these matters. The truth is there is little in the way of consensus in NASCAR Nation. Take Sunday’s Can-Am 500. A significant number will blame Kyle Busch for plowing into Alex Bowman on the re-start. For others, it will be on Kenseth for coming down on Bowman into the turn. From this point of view, Kenseth’s spotter is culpable, as Kenseth came down thinking he was clear of the 88. Demonizing anyone in this matter doesn’t change the outcome. Closer to the truth, drivers desperate for a win do desperate things, and the results can be disastrous.
The truly remarkable story from the Can-Am 500 is that out of all the contending drivers, two who were so much a part of the story last year, are once again making headlines. This time, the veteran is eliminated and the upstart advances. At least this time, the one is not responsible for the misfortune of the other.
Concerning driver behavior, the fact that Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano were in the Chase and contending for a win in the Can-Am 500 is a reminder of why playing well with others is critical. If both parties have the talent, they will see a lot of each other, and no doubt as they find themselves in close quarters, thoughts turn towards how it’s played out before.
Look at last Sunday’s contenders. Kevin Harvick has a past with Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Logano. Joey Logano has a past with Harvick and Kenseth. Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano have rattled sabres before. We could go on, but you get the picture.
Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.