Tempers fly after Michigan race

BROOKLYN, Mich. - No one would have guessed that Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were good friends after Sunday's Sirius Satellite 400 at Michigan. Earnhardt, who currently sits second 185 points behind Kenseth in series rankings, was...

BROOKLYN, Mich. - No one would have guessed that Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were good friends after Sunday's Sirius Satellite 400 at Michigan. Earnhardt, who currently sits second 185 points behind Kenseth in series rankings, was maddened after Kenseth bumped him on race's final lap.

The rub caused Earnhardt to wiggle and lose track position as Kenseth snuck past, also cruising by the No. 8 Chevy in the process were Michael Waltrip and Sterling Marlin. Earnhardt fell from fourth to seventh, were he finished.

He was not happy about it. Earnhardt, not a driver known for being temperamental, smashed into the back of Kenseth's Ford, and knocking the grill off his DEI Chevy in the process.

Earnhardt sulked around the garage, muttering colorful four letter words, and glaring towards the DeWalt hauler. When he finally calmed to speak to reporters, he was clearly enraged.

"You'll have to ask Matt what happened," Earnhardt said. "He got up inside of me and just ran me up into the wall.

"I was a sitting duck out there for the final restart because the guys behind me with fresher tires didn't have any lapped cars to contend with. I just had to drive my butt off."

While Kenseth made a point of apologizing when interviewed on MRN after the race, Earnhardt, Jr. made it known that revenge was coming.

"Every time we're racing each other, he (Kenseth) runs me into the wall. I mean, we're buddies and all, but hopefully he won't get mad when I plant him. He had new tires and he as going by me. I don't know why he had to use all the racetrack up. He killed my momentum and I lost two more spots it seems like I could have had, you know. But that's the battle. If that's how they want to battle, that's how we'll battle."

Earnhardt was not the only irate driver at the end of Sunday's 400-miles. After a lap 171 incident, where Craven, Biffle and Stewart tangled; Biffle spun and Craven's Ford was suffered front-end damage.

At the time, Craven was in the top ten and Biffle was a lap down. After the race, Craven stuck his head in the No. 16 Roush Ford and gave Biffle a piece of his mind.

"You're a champion, act like it," barked Craven. He had to settle for a 15th place run.

Biffle was apologetic for the contact with Craven, which caused him to finish 31st.

"Our car was a little off during the long green flag run and we lost a lap but we were still headed for a good finish before we got into the wreck. I let the twenty car go and then he ran me up into the wall. It was a bad deal because it ended up hurting Ricky Craven who was having a good run. I guess I didn't pull over for him early enough, but we're all out here to do the best we can. Those things will happen sometimes and we'll put it behind us and go on to the next one."

The driver with the best reason to be incensed, Ryan Newman, turned out to be the most calm. Newman's car erupted into flames after a blown motor ruptured the No. 12 Dodge's oil lines.

For Newman it was just another day at the office.

"I was kind of looking out for myself, and the flame got so bad I had to lock it down and try to bail. The burns are just on the side of my face. That's about it. It's just the first layer of my skin. It's like a really bad sunburn."

Next week the WCS heads for the peaceful wine country in Sonoma, California. Perhaps the lush greenery and poetic landscape will fan some of the flames ignited this past weekend in Michigan.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Sterling Marlin , Ryan Newman , Ricky Craven