In case you missed last weekend’s NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, let us catch you up to speed. After the checkered flag had flown, Brad Keselowski attempted to spin Denny Hamlin in response to an incident earlier in the race. Hamlin then took out Matt Kenseth and managed to wrap Tony Stewart up in the mix, who then backed his Chevy into Keselowski’s car show him that behavior wouldn’t be tolerated.
The chaos didn’t end once the drivers had entered pit road and exited their cars. As Keselowski was exiting near the garage area, Kenseth ran after him and put him in a headlock before the minor scrap was broken up.
NASCAR has now handed down fines to both Keselowski and Stewart for their roles in incident. Keselowski was given the greater fine of $50,000 for triggering the spree of events, while Stewart was fined $25,000 for retaliating. Kenseth managed to escape being fined, which may come as a surprise to some. NASCAR has historically been okay with drivers settling their differences off the track (so long as no fists are thrown), but it’s when they use their vehicles as “a tool for destruction,” that they begin to have a problem.
“These penalties are about maintaining a safe environment following the race,” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s senior vice president, competition and racing development, said in a statement. “We knew that the new Chase format was likely going to raise the intensity level and we want our drivers to continue to be themselves. However, the safety of our drivers, crew members, officials, and workers is paramount and we will react when that safety could be compromised.”
The penalties assessed to Stewart and Keselowski are considered to be light considering no points were docked from either driver nor were they forced to sit this weekend’s race. NASCAR’s new Chase format is designed to drum up excitement, so even though the sanctioning body doesn’t want drivers ramming each other with their cars, the drama isn’t all bad news for the race series.