NASCAR mulls new take on punishments

By Jenna Fryer ,AP

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — NASCAR Chairman Brian France has always been very clear about the action he wants to see in races.

He loved the 2011 season finale when Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards waged a white-knuckle battle for both the race win and the championship, and France was captivated in March 2013 by the intensity of the closing laps at Fontana. Feuding drivers Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano wouldn’t give an inch as they raced for the win and ended up wrecking each other, and Kyle Busch squeezed through to steal a victory.

For good measure, Stewart tried to confront Logano on pit road after the race to add another layer of excitement to an already thrilling finish.

Those are the races talked about on Mondays, the ones that garner mainstream media attention. Fans remember Juan Pablo Montoya hitting a jet dryer and triggering a massive fireball during the Daytona 500 far longer than they can recall that Matt Kenseth actually won that 2012 season opener.

That puts NASCAR in a very tough position as series officials spent Monday reviewing video and data from several post-race skirmishes at Charlotte Motor Speedway. NASCAR must decide what, if any, punishments are warranted for a sequence of events that has captivated its fan base.

Brad Keselowski, Hamlin and Kenseth �X three championship contenders �X were all involved in some sort of fracas after the checkered flag fell Saturday night. Keselowski firmly believed Hamlin and Kenseth both had it coming when he first tried to spin Hamlin on the cool-down lap, then hit Kenseth’s car on pit road.

Hamlin admitted to being angry with Keselowski over the way he raced Hamlin over the final two laps, and he brake-checked him to send his message. Keselowski tried to spin him in retaliation but missed, then headed to pit road to deal with Kenseth.

Upset over damage he believed Kenseth had done to his car under yellow with six laps remaining, Keselowski hit Kenseth, which led one of them to run into unwitting victim Tony Stewart.

Both drivers were livid �X Stewart backed his car up and into Keselowski’s as payback �X and Kenseth hustled into the garage to exact his own justice.