NASCAR

Gordon, Kenseth sidelined in crash

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Rea White

Rea White has been covering NASCAR full time since 1998. She has won awards from press agencies in Alabama and North Carolina and formerly served as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Follow her on Twitter.

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BRISTOL, Tenn.

It looked like the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway might come down to a duel between a pair of past champions.

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Four-time champion Jeff Gordon was in the lead, where he had been for 65 laps in the Food City 500, with former champion Matt Kenseth on his bumper.

They were fighting hard for position. Racing clean but close, it looked like Kenseth, who had already led 85 laps, had the edge.

Then disaster struck.

Gordon’s tire failed. He snapped across the track and into the outer wall — and into the path of Kenseth.

With nowhere to go, Kenseth slammed into Gordon’s car, crumpling his hood as he went underneath the leader’s Chevrolet from the force of the impact.

On the previous pit stop, Gordon’s car had taken just left-side tires to help with the handling.

"The car was turning really good,” Gordon said. “But, maybe we were just a little bit too hard on that right front. Not really sure there. Right fronts never blow out when you are up against the wall. I was up against the wall the entire run, and as soon as I went to go under a lapped car — boom — it popped down at the bottom of the race track and went all the way to the top, and we got the wall.

“Really hate that we collected Matt Kenseth in that. He had a great race car, and a great day going. We were really trying to get by with a top five, top 10 and get some points. This is a bad way to end it."

He ended it in 34th, a finish that dropped him to 21st in the standings.

Kenseth fared slightly worse, finishing 35th and dropping six spots to 13th in the standings.

"There was not a lot either one of us could have done about that, so it's going to take a lot of Husky Tools to fix that thing,” he said.

Still, he found the positives in the performance. A week after earning his first win as a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, he complimented crew chief Jason Ratcliff for the changes he made during the race, and how well they were running at the time.

“I thought we had that run the fastest car, one of the only cars that could pass out there today,” he said. “And man, we just got a little behind and I just finally had it made up and wanted to be in the lead for that last pit stop so we could get ourselves some track position there and blew a tire right in front of us — just nowhere to go.

“We had a great car again today. We just didn't make to the end unfortunately."

Tagged: Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth

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