Matt Kenseth needed a good finish to make up for his heartbreaking loss in the season opening Daytona 500. Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway he looked to be in a good position to do just that; only to see it come apart through no fault of his own.
Kenseth led 47 of the opening laps, but on lap 117 during a round of green flag pit stops, NASCAR ruled that the gas man on his Joe Gibbs Racing crew had placed a tool on the rear of Kenseth’s Toyota. However he did so while connected to the car with the fuel can. That is against NASCAR rules. NASCAR ordered Kenseth in for a pass through penalty.
As crew chief Jason Ratcliff began to argue with NASCAR officials and Kenseth stayed on the track. After several laps NASCAR warned Kenseth as Ratcliff continued debating with officials. The flag stand first displayed a black flag to Kenseth then displayed the black flag with a diagonal white cross signifying that Kenseth was no longer being scored.
Kenseth entered the pits after being display the flag but had already lost a lap from not being scored. He went another lap down. On the radio Kenseth told his team that he was unaware that he had been black flagged and admonished his crew for the lack of communication. Ratcliff told his driver that he couldn’t see the flags as he was down off the pit box arguing with officials. Kenseth was never able to make up any laps and finished the day 19th.
“I got black flagged for some type of pit road penalty ,” Kenseth said after the race. “I didn’t know it and pitted the lap they told me to do a pass through, but I guess they must have been – I’m assuming they were black flagging us before that and they pulled our card, so I never heard anything about it or at least saw the flag or anything, so I came when they told me to come and I guess they must have penalized us a couple laps or something. I don’t really know. I haven’t really seen it.”