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Sense of rejuvenation for Ronnie Bassett Jr., team with his first K&N win
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Ronnie Bassett Jr. sat in contemplation last May, having rushed to witness first-hand the devastating fire that tore through his family-owned team's race shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While thankfully no one was injured, the material loss was heavy, with little to salvage in the way of cars, tools, equipment and the team's hauler. Sifting through cinders in the days after the blaze, Bassett said he wondered what would come next for him and his brother, Dillon, a pair of next-generation racers. "We were sitting there scratching our heads," Bassett says. "We didn't know whether we were going to be able to race again the rest of that season or what." Sunday night, nearly nine months after their loss, came victory. The 21-year-old Bassett emerged from a frantic second half of the season-opening Jet Tools 150 to score his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory at New Smyrna Speedway. The win also soothed the heartbreak of last year's K&N opener, where an official scoring check after the checkered flag kept Bassett from Victory Lane. Bassett's convincing victory, which included a late-race stretch of running 1-2 with his brother, belies the adversity that his family has faced. Working with insurance to rebuild their own shop has been a gradual process, and the family racing operation is now spread over three buildings in their hometown -- a small warehouse for primary cars, a shed for parts and another space serving as a makeshift fabrication shop. "We're just trying to make it happen," said Ronnie Bassett Sr., who enjoyed a successful career in the Sportsman division at Bowman Gray Stadium . "They don't have much to work out of. It's a tight spot, I can tell you that." What has helped has been a devoted crew, and fellow racers David Calabrese and Brandon Gdovic lending a hand with equipment to help the team finish out 2016 with a part-time slate. "We just prayed to the good Lord about it to see what needed to be done," Bassett Jr. said. "It kind of worked out. We have more than what we had when we were working out of our other shop. We've been blessed with a lot of great people." Bassett Jr. led the final 42 laps, sweating through a pair of red flags for accidents, including a final stack-up near the front of the field that knocked his brother and NASCAR Next driver Tyler Dippel from contention. It marked the first laps led in a K&N East career that's spanned 40 races since 2013. Though Bassett Jr. amassed a three-second lead on the half-mile track over the closing laps, he and his father remained antsy. Intense racing behind him threatened a late caution, and then there were the reminders of the mix-up from last season. Bassett actually crossed under the checkered flag first at New Smyrna in 2016, emerging from a three-car fracas with Todd Gilliland and Spencer Davis. But race officials determined that an extra lap had been inadvertently run beyond the scheduled distance, handing the victory to Gilliland. There was no doubt Sunday night. "I had a counter in my hand tonight," Bassett Sr. said with a laugh. "We were definitely watching the flagstand, that's for sure. It's all good, though." For his son, the victory was a needed boost after a long dry spell. Bassett had two runner-up efforts sprinkled among his nine previous top-five finishes, including a third place at New Smyrna last year. After leaving the Florida half-mile with trophy in hand, Bassett said the sense of rejuvenation was real. "It's been very, very tough on myself -- I went from running good in Late Model Stocks and then coming to these things, it's like punching myself in the heart," Bassett Jr. said, adding that the family plans a full K&N East schedule in its rebuilding year. "To come back and have a good race car and lead laps tonight, it builds my confidence back to know that I can still do it."
Kyle Busch, Bowman react to final-lap contact
Kyle Busch and Alex Bowman discuss their final-lap contact after The Advance Auto Parts Clash.
Bowman thankful for opportunity in 'The Clash'
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: How 'The Clash' works DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Alex Bowman made his case for a spot in the season-opening exhibition for 2016 pole winners, claiming his first Coors Light Pole at his home track at Phoenix as part of his substitute stint in Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s place. But even though he'd earned eligibility, so had Earnhardt as a former winner. With only 10 starts as an interim driver in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet, Bowman didn't exactly feel like he could pipe up and volunteer. "I just kind of let it go quiet," Bowman said Friday at Daytona International Speedway . "I didn't want step on any toes, or ask anybody and have it seem like I was begging for something. I wasn't really asking." It didn't stop him from joking about a possible one-off effort with his crew chief under the banner of Greg Ives Racing so that both he and Earnhardt could be in the field. But the word came from Hendrick Motorsports general manager Doug Duchardt on the chilly December day at Darlington Raceway while Earnhardt completed the compulsory on-track preparations to gain medical clearance in his return from concussion. Earnhardt will defer his comeback one week, joining the FOX Sports team to call the action in Saturday night's Advance Auto Parts Clash (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) from the TV booth. But his influence will still resonate in his vote of confidence for Bowman's ability. RELATED: Dale Jr. to be in the broadcast booth for 'The Clash' "I am very thankful for the opportunity," Bowman said. "Dale's been so great to me. I wouldn't be here without him. He is the one that pointed me out when he wasn't feeling good. I feel like I owe a lot to him, and I am very thankful for him to put me in the car for this race." Bowman will start eighth in Saturday night's invitational, the only race currently on his 2017 schedule. The 23-year-old driver, who drove part-time in the XFINITY Series last year, participates in simulation tests for Hendrick Motorsports and some testing duty for Chevrolet. His 10-race stint during Earnhardt's recuperation was impressive enough to attract the eyes of a handful of prospective car owners with full-time positions in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . But none were enough to make Bowman jump. "There was just really wasn't anything that was going to make me leave Hendrick Motorsports ," Bowman said. "I feel like I want to be part of a winning organization whether I am driving, just working for the team, doing testing or doing the simulation stuff. Whatever I'm doing, I want to be part of a winning team. Nothing was going to drag me away from here." With this event shaping up as a "one night only" performance, Bowman says he isn't treating the race as another audition. And the fickle nature of restrictor-plate racing has him prepared for all possible outcomes. The only additional pressure, he says, comes from having a superspeedway expert in Earnhardt observing his efforts with a vested interest from the TV booth. But much like last year, Bowman says he'll savor the moment. "It's another race," Bowman said. "It's another opportunity to have a lot of fun with Hendrick Motorsports . That is something I kind of tried to do all last season was just to have fun and that is what we are going to try to do on Saturday night and hopefully bring home a trophy."
With long history in sport, Childress ready for Friday's Hall of Fame induction
RELATED: Mark Martin on what drove him to success Richard Childress will go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Friday night with perhaps a bit more of an appreciation than most, having spent the better part of his life tied snugly to the sport of stock car racing. It's been his livelihood and his lifeblood. From selling snacks as a youngster in the grandstands at a local track to overseeing a racing organization today that boasts more than 500 employees, Childress is one of the few still around that has seen and done it all. Childress, 71, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Friday along with fellow team owners Rick Hendrick and Raymond Parks and former drivers Mark Martin and Benny Parsons (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Incredible stories shadow each of this year's inductees. The story of Childress' rise from dropout to multi-millionaire is no less so. Today, his Richard Childress Racing organization fields three full-time teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and three in the NASCAR XFINITY Series . His teams have won 12 championships and 214 races across NASCAR's three national series (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck). Six of his championships came with driver Dale Earnhardt, an inaugural member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and regarded by many as one of the sport's most talented and influential drivers. "I'm sure every one of the inductees are very proud," Childress said last week during a round of media availabilities for this year's Hall of Fame Class. "My feeling is, I started out selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman - Gray Stadium watching my heroes, Billy and Bobby Myers, Curtis Turner and Glen Wood, these guys race and that's all I ever wanted to do was become a race driver." He worked full time to live his dream part-time until the pull of the racing won out and for the longest time it looked like a fool's errand. Money didn't flow and bills piled up but like everyone else chasing a dream, Childress was undeterred. At 24, he got his first big break, competing at Talladega Superspeedway after many of NASCAR's top stars, citing tire concerns, boycotted the race. He returned home to purchase a small parcel of land with the money he earned from that weekend's races, and started his own auto repair business. "I left there with more money than I'd ever seen at one time," he said. Being his own boss also kept his NASCAR dream alive. He jumped in full time in 1976 as an owner/driver at a time when only a handful of teams had the support and the finances to contend for wins on a consistent basis. "I can remember the days when we had to syphon the fuel out of the race car to get home, put it in the tow car," Childress said. "A lot of people don't understand how it was back in the early '70s … what not just me but everyone was going through. You had the Pettys, Junior Johnson, Bud Moore, there were about four big teams … those were the guys you were racing against." His second big break came in the early '80s when he made the decision to focus on ownership and leave the driving to someone else. Earnhardt came and went, driving a handful of races at the end of the '81 season. A two-year stint with Ricky Rudd helped the team turn the corner and build the consistency necessary to compete for wins on a regular basis. By '84, Earnhardt had returned and RCR had improved its product tremendously. "Ricky was a young, up and coming driver and I think we both helped each other a lot," Childress said. "He helped me as a car owner and I think we helped him as a driver, with the past driving experience I had and as an owner being able to work with a driver was totally different. I think it was a learning experience for all of us. "When Dale came back in '84 I was much more comfortable as an owner at that point." It's been three years since a driver for RCR won in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series although all three of its current drivers -- Austin Dillon , Paul Menard and Ryan Newman -- have qualified for the Chase on one or more occasions. Childress, winless as a driver in 285 career starts, remains positive and focused. No different than when he was just starting out with little more than a dream and a desire. "You had to have a passion," he said. "Even when I was driving and wasn't winning … I never started a race that I didn't think this was going to be the day that the big boys had a problem and I was going to be able to come in there and win. "Just the sheer drive of wanting to succeed, that's what kept me going." And it's led him right into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bowman details decision on Clash entry
Alex Bowman goes into detail about the decision for him to drive the No. 88 in The Clash at Daytona International Speedway.
Prolonged excellence has Childress Hall of Fame bound
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 MORE: Photos from voting day, of class Journeyman stock car racer Richard Childress caught lightning in a bottle, not once but twice. NASCAR's only driver strike, on the eve of the 1969 inaugural race at Talladega Superspeedway , gave Childress the opportunity to earn enough money to build his first race shop and lay the foundation for Richard Childress Racing , the powerhouse Chevrolet organization which to date has claimed 11 owner titles across NASCAR’s three national series. Nearly a decade later, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina native met Dale Earnhardt. Together, the pair won six NASCAR premier series championships along with 67 races between 1984 and 2000. Earnhardt entered the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a member of its 2010 inaugural class. Childress will be enshrined in the hall on Jan. 20 in Charlotte, N.C. (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN), along with Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons. Childress, 71, grew up selling peanuts and popcorn at Winston-Salem's legendary Bowman Gray Stadium . Soon after, he bought a 1947 Plymouth for $20. "That's where it started," he said in a Grainger.com interview. "It's the best investment I ever made." Top drivers – those with factory contracts – made a decent living while independents like Childress barely scraped by. He went to Talladega in the fall of 1969 to compete in a preliminary event but was asked by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. to enter the Talladega 500 when Professional Driver Association members withdrew, citing high speeds and tire failures. "I had made three or four thousand dollars on Saturday," Childress told The Birmingham News in 2009. "The money that (France) paid us to run – we called it deal money in those days – plus my winnings, I came back with seven, eight, 10 thousand dollars. In those days it was big money. "It was my big break. Life’s all about the breaks and when you take advantage of them. That was the difference between making it and not making it." Childress never won a race as a driver but was able to secure enough sponsorship to keep going. His equipment generally was immaculate and pleased supporters, who ultimately would provide much greater – and crucial – financial backing. Earnhardt, who'd won his first championship in 1980, chose not to accompany Rod Osterlund's team upon its sale to J.D. Stacy. He joined Childress for 11 races, replacing the owner in the driver's seat. "I didn't want to get out of the car but I knew the opportunity was there – and I didn't want to pass it up," Childress told Foxnews.com last year. "I knew Dale was a championship driver. That was one of the biggest breaks in the history of RCR and Richard Childress. "I was maxxed out. I did everything I could do on my home. I sold everything I thought I had that I could sell just to run Dale in those (11) races." Earnhardt left to race for Bud Moore, and Childress – thanks to a bail-out from primary sponsor Wrangler Jeans – was able to continue. With Ricky Rudd, RCR scored its first victory in June 1983 at Riverside International Raceway. Earnhardt returned to RCR the following season, capturing the team’s first premier series title in 1986. Additional championships followed in 1987, 1990-91 and 1993-94. Longtime racing executive and Charlotte Motor Speedway promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler credited Childress for molding Earnhardt into one of NASCAR's greatest drivers. "In his own, quiet Southern way, Richard instilled in Dale all he knew," Wheeler wrote in "Growing Up NASCAR." "Richard knew what to say and when to say it and he knew how to get the best out of his driver. Richard was a brilliant, brilliant coach, something most drivers never get." Earnhardt and Childress finally won the long-elusive Daytona 500 in 1998, three years before the driver's death on the final lap of the "Great American Race." Childress considered leaving the sport – "Probably all the way up until Tuesday. Sunday night, definitely," he said – but recalled a hunting incident after which he and Earnhardt agreed each would go on if something happened to the other. RCR promoted its NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Kevin Harvick to drive its Chevrolets – retiring the iconic No. 3 in deference to the late Intimidator. Childress returned the number to its cars several years ago when his grandson, Austin Dillon , moved to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after winning NASCAR Camping World Truck and XFINITY titles. To date, RCR has won 105 NASCAR premier series races. The organization counts four XFINITY owner titles and the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner championship in 1995 with Mike Skinner. RCR also captured the XFINITY Series driver championship in 2013 and the Camping World Truck Series driver title in 2011, both with Austin Dillon . Childress, recipient of the 1986 Bill France Award of Excellence, is a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, International Motorsports Hall of Fame and North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Texas penalties upheld after JRM No. 88 appeal
RELATED: Series standings " Chase grid " Texas penalties A three-member panel upheld a P2-grade penalty to the JR Motorsports No. 88 team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at the conclusion of an expedited appeals hearing Wednesday. Kevin Harvick drove the No. 88 Chevrolet to a third-place finish last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway , but the JRM entry did not meet the proper height requirement in the rear during a post-race inspection, a violation of Sections 12.1; 22.214.171.124.2 in the 2016 NASCAR Rule Book. The team -- with Rick Hendrick the car owner of record for the Dale Earnhardt Jr .-owned organization -- was docked 10 points in the XFINITY team owner standings. Crew chief David Elinz was fined $10,000. The penalties were affirmed Wednesday by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel. The team had the option of a final appeal to Bryan Moss, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, but it declined. The panel members who heard Wednesday's appeal were: Dale Pinilis, longtime operator of NASCAR-affiliated Bowman Gray Stadium ; former premier series driver Lake Speed; and Kevin Whitaker, owner of Greenville-Pickens Speedway, another historic weekly NASCAR track.
NASCAR reveals nominees for 2017 Hall of Fame class
RELATED: Five more names on list of 2017 Hall of Fame nominees " MORE: See the 2017 Hall of Fame nominees DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 24, 2016) -- Legendary engine builders, crew chiefs, owners, drivers and the most recognizable voice in motorsports. The talents, eras and levels may differ, but all share a common thread. They shaped NASCAR, and on Wednesday, they were recognized as nominees for the highest honor the sport bestows -- enshrinement into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. NASCAR today announced the 20 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017, as well as the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Included among the list are five first-time nominees, all legends who made excellence a habit through their various contributions to the sport. Among them are record-holding four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr .; the man with the most car owner wins in NASCAR national series history with 322, Jack Roush; former all-time consecutive starts leader Ricky Rudd; legendary motorsports broadcasting pioneer Ken Squier; and three-time premier series champion engine builder and three-time Daytona 500 -winning crew chief Waddell Wilson. For a full list of nominees, please see below. The nominees were selected by a nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks, and the media. The committee's votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young. From the list of 20 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. Voting Day for the 2017 class will be Wednesday, May 25. Added to this year's list of Landmark Award nominees is Janet Guthrie -- the first female driver to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race. The four returning nominees for the Landmark Award are H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Squier (more on each below). Potential Landmark Award recipients include competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role. Award winners remain eligible for NHOF enshrinement. Following are the 20 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, listed alphabetically: Buddy Baker , won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Sprint Cup ) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500. Red Byron , first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949. Richard Childress , 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series. Ray Evernham , three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief. Ray Fox , legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner. Rick Hendrick , 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series. Ron Hornaday , four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion. Harry Hyde , 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief. Alan Kulwicki , 1992 NASCAR premier series champion. Mark Martin , 96-time race winner in NASCAR national series competition. Hershel McGriff , 1986 NASCAR west series champion. Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner. Benny Parsons , 1973 NASCAR premier series champion. Larry Phillips , only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion. Jack Roush , five-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series. Ricky Rudd , won 23 times in NASCAR's premier series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400. Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Mike Stefanik , winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships. Waddell Wilson , won three NASCAR premier series championships as an engine builder. Robert Yates , won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner. The five nominees for the Landmark Award, listed alphabetically, are: H. Clay Earles , founder of Martinsville Speedway . Janet Guthrie , the first female to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race. Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner. Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. NASCAR Hall of Fame Nomination Eligibility -- Drivers who have competed in NASCAR for at least 10 years and been retired for two years are eligible for nomination to the NHOF. Previously, eligible drivers must have been retired for three years. -- In addition, drivers who have competed for a minimum of 10 years and reached their 55th birthday on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year are immediately eligible for the NHOF. -- Any driver who has competed for 30 or more years in NASCAR competition by Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year is automatically eligible, regardless of age. -- Drivers may continue to compete after reaching any of the aforementioned milestones without compromising eligibility for nomination or induction. -- For non-drivers, individuals must have worked at least 10 years in the NASCAR industry. -- Individuals may also be considered who made significant achievements in the sport, but left the sport early due to a variety of circumstances. The 22-person Nominating Committee: NOMINATION COMMITTEE NASCAR Hall of Fame: Executive Director Winston Kelley; Historian Buz McKim. NASCAR Officials: Chairman / CEO Brian France; Vice Chairman Jim France; Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton; Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar; Executive Vice President / Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell; Executive Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps; Senior Vice President, Competition Scott Miller; Senior Vice President, Marketing & Driver Services Jill Gregory. Track Owners/Operators: International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy; Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell; Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage; Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark; former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George; Dover Motorsports CEO Denis McGlynn; Pocono Raceway board of directors member Looie McNally; Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis; Holland Motorsports Complex operator Ron Bennett; Rockford Speedway operator Jody Deery; West Coast representative Ken Clapp. Media: Mike Joy, FOX.
Opinion: Time for NASCAR to deliver message of its own
Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author. Are you not entertained? In a nod to the gladiator era, Martinsville Speedway 's round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason worked a packed coliseum into a frenzy Sunday, with Matt Kenseth taking his pound of flesh from Joey Logano in a move that stretched the limits of NASCAR's unwritten "boys, have at it" policy to let drivers settle differences amongst themselves. NASCAR's big-league playoffs channeled shades of a Saturday night showdown at Bowman Gray Stadium , the historic NASCAR-sanctioned short track where weekend warriors fuel their long-running feuds with regular fits of retaliation -- all to the delight of the bloodthirsty crowd. Sunday, shockingly, it happened with the cameras rolling on one of stock-car racing's biggest stages. RELATED: Logano calls Kenseth a 'complete coward' At the center was Kenseth, who -- to borrow baseball jargon -- had already backed Logano off the plate with instances of hard racing over the course of the first 400 laps. But what happened on Lap 454 was no mere brushback pitch. This was a purposeful beanball directed at the head, the result of bubbling-over tensions from Logano's punting of Kenseth in a late-race battle for the lead at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago. In the short trip from his car's wrecked carcass to the infield care center, Kenseth conjured up mechanical or tire-failure hokum in a thin attempt to explain away the telegraphed laying in wait for payback. Maybe his car wouldn't turn or stop, but it was driveable enough to plow Logano's Ford into the wall like so much snow. The surprising move runs crosscurrent to Kenseth's mild-mannered and relatively easy-going reputation. But that character has also shown glimpses of a testy nature over his career, with Sunday's showing, his history of bumper cars at the same Martinsville track with Brian Vickers a few years ago, and his famed post-race tackle between the haulers of Brad Keselowski in the Charlotte Chase race making that short list. GALLERY: Photos of the incident from the track, garage Kenseth may not take ownership of the crash or his intent, but it's a teachable moment and an opportunity for NASCAR officials to take ownership of the competition back in house. Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said Sunday evening that series officials were "certainly disappointed" in the run-in and that it merited further discussion, with any possible penalties emerging Tuesday. Even O'Donnell smiled with a "no comment" when asked if Kenseth's car failure theory was plausible. Longtime fans would have to dig back into the sport's lawless, rough-and-tumble early years to find a similar example, but there isn't really a comparable case in recent memory for Sunday's antics, where an ailing, laps-down driver decides that a dominant, leading driver won't make it to the finish. The Jeff Gordon - Clint Bowyer altercation at Phoenix in November 2012 comes close, with off-the-pace Gordon waiting for Bowyer to pass before ramming his rival, ultimately earning a $100,000 fine and 25-point penalty. Kyle Busch wrecking Ron Hornaday under caution during a truck race at Texas a few years back? Also close, but the two principles in that instance were both on the same lap, racing for position before tensions erupted. At stock-car racing's weekly levels, laps-down drivers wait on leading cars to mete out revenge and it's all part of the show. Is it part of the Sprint Cup show? Tuesday's anticipated penalty announcement -- and the promotional ads pitching the series' next race this weekend at Texas -- will tell the tale. NASCAR officials want to see emotions from competitors, but they also don't want to see cars wielded as weapons, especially with hard, intentional hits on the driver's side. They also want what's best for fans, who cheered lustily at Sunday's developments, though it may have been driven as much by Logano's comeuppance for his recent unapologetic aggression as by Kenseth's unsavory methods. Kenseth sent a message by unceremoniously ending Logano's three-victory streak with gusto. Now it's NASCAR's turn to deliver a message, one that resembles a 95-mph fastball high and inside. Otherwise, it's time to revise the 2016 schedule to add Bowman Gray to the Chase and allow the "boys, have at it" mantra to spread its wings in the name of entertainment. POLL: What's your opinion on incident?
Matt Kenseth's suspension upheld on final appeal
MORE: Official release on decision " Kenseth suspended for two races CONCORD, N.C. -- Matt Kenseth 's suspension from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition was upheld Thursday after a final appeal. The original probation period given was amended from six months to now through Dec. 31, 2015. The ruling issued by National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss at the NASCAR Research & Development Center will keep Kenseth out of the next two races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, at Texas this weekend and Phoenix the next. Moss' decision comes after a three-member panel upheld Kenseth's behavioral penalties -- stemming from his on-track fracas with rival Joey Logano last weekend at Martinsville Speedway -- during Thursday's initial appeals hearing. Moss' ruling is final. The burden of proof rested with Kenseth for the final appeal. In the first hearing, the burden of proof was NASCAR's responsibility. Earlier Thursday, the National Motorsports Appeals Panel ruled that Kenseth did not provide sufficient evidence to overturn his suspension or six-month probation for the on-track incident. The rotating three-member panel for the initial hearing was composed of Ken Clapp, NASCAR's vice president of marketing development until his retirement in 1999; Bill Mullis, a former driver and the owner of Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.; and Dale Pinilis, longtime operator of historic Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. The final appeal was only the third hearing overseen by Moss, a former Gulfstream Aerospace executive who joined the NASCAR appeals process last year. Moss also heard the final appeal for behavioral penalties against driver Kurt Busch in February, and the last appeal for technical penalties against Richard Childress Racing 's No. 31 team in May. Moss upheld the decision of the three-member panel in both instances. Kenseth offered a smile as he arrived at the R&D Center on Thursday morning at approximately 8:10 a.m. ET, followed minutes later by team owner Joe Gibbs for the 9 a.m. hearing. RELATED: France explains reasoning behind penalty On Tuesday, NASCAR suspended Kenseth for the next two races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs for his role in a crash with Logano in the late stages of Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway . Kenseth was also placed on probation for six months. Kenseth's Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota, several laps down, made heavy contact with Logano's race-leading Team Penske No. 22 Ford, sending both cars into the Turn 1 wall. NASCAR competition officials parked Kenseth for the remainder of the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 . Kenseth, Gibbs and No. 20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff were each summoned to the NASCAR officials' hauler for post-race consultation. Kenseth was eliminated from championship eligibility during the three-race Contender Round in large part because of an on-track run-in with Logano at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 18. Contact from Logano nudged race leader Kenseth into a late-race spin, ending his bid for an automatic berth in the Chase's next round. WHAT TRANSPIRED: Kansas " Martinsville Kenseth expressed frustration at Logano's unapologetic stance after the incident, saying he "should have stopped running his mouth, A, and No. 2, he's lying when he said he didn't do it on purpose." Kenseth's irritation mounted in the two races that followed -- at Talladega, when Logano hindered his entry to pit road during a mid-race stop; and at Martinsville as Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski orchestrated their maneuvers in a series of mid-race restarts. The Penske drivers' arrangement on restarts was partially to blame for a crash with 65 laps remaining, bottling up the front-runners and snaring Kenseth, Keselowski and Kurt Busch with the most damage. Kenseth's No. 20 returned to the track after repairs, running at reduced pace before his wreck with Logano at the front of the field. Joe Gibbs Racing released a statement shortly after Tuesday's penalty was issued, saying Kenseth would appeal the severity of the punishment.