Points battle intensifies in Kenseth victory

Richmond, VA-- Roush Racing's Matt Kenseth brought out the yellow caution flag on lap 68 after cutting down a right front tire. 332 laps later, he was taking the checkered to grab his fourth win of the season. Kenseth's Taurus suffered not one,...

Richmond, VA-- Roush Racing's Matt Kenseth brought out the yellow caution flag on lap 68 after cutting down a right front tire. 332 laps later, he was taking the checkered to grab his fourth win of the season.

Kenseth's Taurus suffered not one, but two right fronts. Both Kenseth and crew chief Robbie Reiser stated after the race that their early tire problem were caused by the amount of camber they chose to run.

Penske's attention-getter Ryan Newman tallied up yet another second place run. Newman now has four runner-up finishes this season.

Kenseth was not the only driver to cut down a tire throughout the event. Newman's veteran teammate, Rusty Wallace also cut down two right fronts. While running second, making his charge towards the No Bull Winston million dollar bonus with only 11 laps remaining, his second right front went down forcing him to the pits. Wallace ended the night 20th.

Another driver who can share in tonight's big heartbreak with Wallace, Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart. Stewart led the event for a short while and was running third with five laps remaining when his transmission let go. He ended the race 30th.

Fuel mileage also came into play in the closing laps. The cars of Ward Burton and Jeremy Mayfield were forced to the pits with about 20 laps to go. Foyt Racing's Mike Wallace, running an impressive fifth, ran out of fuel in the closing laps. RCR's Kevin Harvick also fell short on fuel.

Race winner Kenseth was told by his crew that the fuel would run him five laps short of the finish. To be honest, he never second guessed they could stretch it to the finish. "I wasn't worried about the fuel. I was more worried about the tires."

Along with his faith in the amount of fuel, he also expressed his gratitude towards his team. "This is a brand new car my guys built and I'm really proud of them. The car was so fast but we just kept getting blown right front tires."

The big story of the night came early when trouble took out the points leader Sterling Marlin on lap 10 of the 400-mile event. Along with Marlin, his Ganassi teammate Jimmy Spencer and Kenseth's Roush teammate Jeff Burton also suffered severe damage. The race was halted for cleanup as the field waited out the red flag on pit road.

Burton's No. 99 got loose in turns three and four, spun and collected Marlin's No. 40 and Spencer's 41 Dodges. "I drove into the corner and it just got around on me." Burton said.

Marlin exited the car with a slight wince and after being evaluated at the infield care center, was found to have suffered chest contusions and shoulder spasms. Marlin finished the race 43rd.

Following the 16-minute red flag for the incident involving Marlin, Spencer and Burton, the green flag waved only to find the yellow one lap later. Terry Labonte suffered severe damage after his No. 5 slammed the outside wall hard. Todd Bodine, Johnny Benson, and Bobby Labonte suffered only minor damage

Lap 64 was the obvious end of Jeff Gordon's recent win streak. Gordon pulled his No. 24 behind the wall after breaking a timing chain belt. In what has been a far less then gratifying weekend for Gordon after wrecking his primary car in practice and then breaking the belt under the hood of his back-up, he missed out on what could have been a big night for him in the points after Marlin's early exit. He also grabbed his first DNF in 56 races. He finished the race 40th and fell from second to fourth in points. .

With Marlin's 43rd place run, all those chasing him in the points gained major ground. Mark Martin was the big winner, with his sixth place run, he jumped from third to second, only nine points out of the lead.

The entire top 10 in points are now separated by an extremely tight 271 point spread.

RCR's Jeff Green had a strong showing with his third place run. Dale Earnhardt Jr. followed to a fourth place finish and Todd Bodine grabbed his first top five of the season.

With Martin in sixth, Ricky Rudd, Ward Burton, Dave Blaney and Jeremy Mayfield close out the top ten.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Mike Wallace , Ryan Newman , Johnny Benson , Dave Blaney , Mark Martin