Gordon Spins Kenseth to Win at Chicagoland

The Associated Press
Sunday, July 9, 2006; 9:04 PM

JOLIET, Ill. -- Matt Kenseth accused Jeff Gordon of spinning him out on Sunday in retribution for an accident earlier in the season. Gordon's answer: So what if I did?

"I certainly didn't mean to wreck him," Gordon said. "But I didn't mind moving him out of the way, either."

A bang from Gordon's bumper sent Kenseth spinning out of the lead with four laps to go in regulation during Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, allowing Gordon to hold on in a two-lap overtime period to win his second race of the season and 75th of his career.

Kenseth, who dominated the second half of the race and appeared to be on his way to his third victory of the season when Gordon hit him, said Gordon did it on purpose to pay him back for a brush earlier this season.

"That wasn't an accident," Kenseth said.

Kenseth tangled with Gordon during the March 26 race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and Gordon shoved him in a physical confrontation after the race.

NASCAR officials fined Gordon $10,000 and put him on probation until Aug. 30. Kenseth figures Gordon just waited for that controversy to die down to serve up his revenge.

"He is not going to do it next week or the week after," Kenseth said. "He will wait. So I know it was intentional, but that is OK. Part of it is my fault _ we got slow."

Gordon said he didn't blatantly wreck Kenseth on purpose. But given the recent history between the two drivers and Gordon's hunger to race his way into NASCAR's version of the playoffs, Gordon said Kenseth should have expected rough treatment.

"When it came down with five to go, he should have expected, if I could get to his bumper, there was going to be some action," Gordon said. "One, because of what happened in Bristol _ and I'm not saying I just was going to wreck him, but you better believe I was going to make life difficult on him. And then No. 2, just 'cause we're hungry right now."

Kenseth took the lead on lap 202 and held it for 62 laps. But a sudden surge from Gordon in the closing laps allowed him to catch Kenseth in Turn 2.

Gordon then tapped Kenseth's rear bumper with his front bumper.

"I didn't really see it, so I can't really speculate too much," said Robbie Reiser, Kenseth's crew chief. "But from what I could see, Matt went to bottom to go around (Casey Mears), and Jeff drove into him."

Second-place finisher Jeff Burton, a former teammate of Kenseth's at Roush Racing, initially declined comment because he didn't see what happened.

But after wincing during a television replay, Burton said, "Matt's a hard-nosed racer, and there'll be retribution for that, I'm sure."

Burton said if NASCAR isn't willing to issue rough driving penalties, it will be up to drivers to settle issues on the track.

"If NASCAR doesn't handle it, then we need to handle it," Burton said. "And that's OK."

Gordon said he knew the tangle would overshadow his victory to some extent.

"Still, it's a great victory for us," Gordon said.

It was Gordon's first victory at the suburban Chicago track, and his second victory of the 2006 season. Gordon won two weeks ago at Infineon Raceway June 25.

With Sunday's victory, Gordon climbed two spots to 10th in the standings, improving his chances of qualifying for the 10-race, season-ending Chase for the Nextel Cup championship format.

Kenseth's rough day didn't end with the Gordon incident. He ran out of gas and had to pit, then collided with David Stremme during the "green/white/checkered" overtime period officials added to the end of the race to allow it to finish under green. Kenseth finished 22nd but remains second in the points standings to Jimmie Johnson.

Burton, trying for his first victory since 2001, finished second, followed by Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

© 2006 The Associated Press