AVONDALE, Ariz. - The bad blood between Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers that boiled over in Martinsville two weeks ago hasn't gone away.
Depending on who you ask.
Vickers and Kenseth made contact in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in an incident the Roush Fenway Racing driver is sure was another payback.
"Obviously, it is retaliation for retaliation, I guess,'' said Kenseth, who insisted Vickers was telling people all week he planned on settling a score with a payback. "I was out of brakes and I was up on everybody and I saw him coming and I lifted at least 10 car lengths before where I normally would lift, and he drove in there at 165 miles per hour and cleaned us out.
"You have someone that has been telling everybody for four or five weeks that as soon as he got a chance at a fast racetrack, he was going to make it hurt and wipe us out. And they do nothing about it. It was so premeditated. It just surprises me that (NASCAR) didn't do anything."
NASCAR didn't agree with Kenseth's view of the situation and issued this statement after the race:
"Had we felt it was more than a racing incident, we would have reacted."
Vickers reportedly first admitted it was a payback but later had a different explanation.
"I don't know what happened," Vickers told the Associated Press. "He just lifted halfway down the backstretch. I was planning on paying him back, but he just lifted halfway down the backstretch. He just stopped. I don't know why.
"If he wants to doubt us, that's fine. He wrecked me at Martinsville, he got wrecked here, but it actually wasn't (payback). I'm not saying I wasn't going to pay him back, but I'm just saying that wasn't it."
The altercation again puts into question NASCAR's controversial "Boys Have at It" policy and how the sanctioning body does or does not enforce those guidelines.
Kenseth believes there's no room for such behavior at the highest level of stock car racing.
"We aren't racing street stocks at a quarter-mile track," Kenseth said, "so they need to figure out how to get the drivers to settle their differences in a different way and talk about it or figure it out or do something instead of using your car as a battering ram somewhere this fast."
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