Matt Kenseth said his penalty for being pushed to the Chicagoland Speedway finish line by JJ Yeley last week was unfortunate, but not unexpected.
NASCAR dropped Kenseth to 21st place (the first car one lap down) because it is against the rules to be pushed by another car on the last lap – even though Kenseth didn't ask to be pushed.
"As soon as you run out (of fuel), the first thing I said on the radio was, ‘Get somebody to push me, get somebody to push me,'" Kenseth said. "And (crew chief) Jimmy (Fennig) is like, ‘You can't be pushed on the last lap.' I was like, ‘Oh yeah, make sure nobody pushes me.'
"So I don't think anybody even got to JJ to ask him. He was just trying to do me a favor, which is really nice of him. A lot of people wouldn't do that."
But the move backfired. Even though Yeley pushed Kenseth on his own, Kenseth was the one who got penalized. And Kenseth said that should be cause for concern.
"What's to stop you at the last race of the year and the guy leading the points runs out of gas, and you get one of your teammates to go push him quick?" Kenseth wondered.
If the points leader was pushed, a penalty might cost that driver the championship. Though NASCAR could penalize the pusher (it didn't in Yeley's case), such a penalty probably wouldn't matter to a non-contender in the last race of the season.
The other complicating factor in the rule is it's legal to push cars around under any other lap except for the final one. So that could help drivers on multi-car teams save fuel under yellow.
"There are a lot of things with this style of racing that could happen," Kenseth said. "I know we don't need more rules now; I don't like more regulations or more rules either, but that's probably something they should think about because it does change the outcome of the race somewhat unfairly."
Kenseth is 10th in points after Chicagoland, but could have been as high as third had he coasted to the finish on his own (Jimmie Johnson ran out of fuel at the white flag and still had enough momentum to finish 10th).
"It's hard, but I guess you just have to forget about it because there's nothing we can do about it now," he said.