NASCAR

RACING ONE: Marlin, Gordon have trouble

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RICHMOND, Va.

was involved in a heavy crash early in the Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond International Raceway, threatening his NASCAR Winston Cup points lead. But soon after Marlin emerged from the infield care center, second-place had problems, too, slowing and eventually heading behind the wall. Marlin, Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and slammed into the outside wall in Turn 3 on Lap 10 of the 400-lap race. Marlin¿s No. 40 Dodge hit the wall almost head-on, severely damaging the front end. Marlin gingerly crawled out of the car but walked to the ambulance for a ride to the infield care center. He was released after being treated for a chest contusion and back strain. ¿Jimmy checked up in front of me,¿ Marlin said. ¿I was right on him. I just about turned to miss him, and it locked my rear wheels up, and I barely got him. It hooked the car head-on into the fence. ¿The car¿s pretty much done. I¿m pretty sore, but we¿ll be OK.¿ NASCAR displayed the red flag for 16 minutes to clean up the Marlin accident. Later, Gordon slowed, stopped in his pit stall and was pushed to the garage, the victim of apparent engine problems. ¿I think we¿re done,¿ said Gordon, who had his modern-era record streak of running at the finish of 56 straight races broken. ¿I think we broke a camshaft. It¿s unfortunate. We¿ve been on a streak of races where we finished. It says a lot about Hendrick Motorsports and the engine department. This weekend hasn¿t been real for luck for us. We¿re going to have to fight real hard next weekend. It¿s not going to be a good points night for us, that¿s for sure. ¿We were coming. We were coming strong.¿ Marlin came into the race with a 91-point lead over Gordon and has led the standings since the second race of the season. If the car can¿t be repaired, Marlin will either finish 42nd or 43rd. crashed on the second lap and damaged his car and was in 43rd when Marlin wrecked. Gordon was 38th after he went to the garage. Third-place came into the race 125 points out of the lead, with 162 behind Marlin. Martin could take over the points lead by finishing third or better should Marlin end up 42nd. Gordon qualified 10th for Saturday¿s race but wrecked his car in practice Friday and had to go to a backup. That meant he had to start at the rear of field but had worked his way to 32nd when the race restarted on Lap 14. Burton was the first car to spin, and he said he wasn¿t sure what happened. ¿Drove down in the corner, and just went around really fast,¿ Burton said. ¿Backed into the wall really fast. Spencer said someone hit his car in the rear. ¿I just got hit from behind,¿ Spencer said. ¿We were all stacked up. It was a good car, I know that. Too early to be doing that stuff. But that¿s part of it.¿

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