Kenseth’s boss and team owner, three-time Super Bowl-winning coach Joe Gibbs, did, too.
Speaking during Thursday’s Championship 4 media day in Hollywood, Florida, Gibbs said he and France met separately earlier this week at Joe Gibbs Racing team headquarters in Huntersville, North Carolina.
Gibbs was vague at best, however, regarding the specifics of the conversations that he and Kenseth had with France.
“We had good meetings,” Gibbs said. “I think we’re all in a good place right now. I think Matt is, too, and I appreciated getting a chance to meet with Brian, and I think Matt did, too, and I think we’re going to put all that behind us, and we’re going to go racing.”
I think we’re going to put all that behind us, and we’re going to go racing.
Kenseth declined to comment on his two-race NASCAR suspension or anything related to the Logano controversy, through a team spokesperson on Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In his annual end-of-season news conference on Friday at Homestead, France explained the impetus for his meeting with Kenseth.
“We were very disappointed, as you know, with what happened at Martinsville, and we reacted to that,” said NASCAR’s third-generation leader. “I wanted to make sure that matter was behind us, with Matt and with Joe Gibbs, and I’m assured that it is. We had a good conversation about what had happened and what the thinking was, or whatever you want to call Matt’s actions. We talked about that, and it was a good conversation. Those kind of conversations happen with us more frequently than not. So that’s not a surprising thing.”
Gibbs and Kenseth, who were both critical of Kenseth’s suspension, spent time together this week leading up to Kenseth’s return to the No. 20 Toyota in Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead.
“We had our meeting this Tuesday at 10:30. It’s great having Matt back in there because it’s almost like you’re missing part of the family when somebody, one of our drivers is not there,” Gibbs said on Thursday. “It was the same with Kyle (Busch) earlier in the year. We certainly missed him, and you miss Matt. So having him back, yeah, we’ve talked about that, and he just kind of shared some things with me, and then I shared some things with him. It’s the kind of things between the two of us, but I think he felt like the meeting was very beneficial, and I know I felt the same way.”
Since deliberately wrecking Logano at Martinsville as retaliation for Logano wrecking him two weeks earlier at Kansas, Kenseth has been unapologetic.
In an interview with the Associated Press last week, the 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion defended his move — which occurred while running multiple laps and with Logano as the leader – and insisted he had no regrets about dumping the Team Penske driver, who in spinning Kenseth at Kansas ruined Kenseth’s best chance to advance in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Does Gibbs, a three-time Sprint Cup champion team owner and one of the most respected men in the Cup garage, condone his driver’s actions at Martinsville?
“I felt like what took place there started weeks before, and you know, to be truthful, I don’t tell drivers about their relationship with other drivers and kind of what happens on the racetrack,” Gibbs said. “I’ll leave that up to them.”
As for whether Gibbs believes in always going to bat for his drivers, regardless of what they’ve done, the veteran team owner takes a circumstantial approach.
“Well, I think that’s kind of a hard answer probably,” he said. “I think there’s certain things that have happened in the past where you wouldn’t. You would say, ‘Hey, this is definitely wrong.’ I know I have with drivers, and said, ‘Look, this is not something we’re all about,’ and we have all those kinds of discussions. You go through some tough things.
“And then there’s other times that you kind of feel like, hey, it’s our responsibility, we’re a team, and we’re going to stand up for each other. So I think it could go either way.”