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Richmond produces usual short tempers

RICHMOND, Va. — The 12 drivers holding Chase for the Championship berths before the final regular-season race at Richmond held on. But there was intrigue.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun points leader Kyle Busch into the wall in Turn 2 in a move reminiscent of Busch's on Earnhardt late in the spring race here.

Kasey Kahne came within 69 points of knocking Clint Bowyer from the 12th spot, and blamed part of his failure on an alleged pit road conspiracy involving David Ragan's Roush Fenway team and its Yates partner.

Kahne pitted between Roush's Jamie McMurray and Yates' David Gilliland and at least once had to negotiate their crewman to enter his stall. Crew chief Kenny Francis was livid when Kahne had to pit nose first on Lap 96, radioing for Kahne to "knock that (expletive) down next time."

"They picked (a pit) around us for a reason. I know that much," Kahne said. "I know the first (pit stop), I stopped short and was pointed out and David stopped as far out of his box as he could. So the first time was (blatant) and from there it was just hard to get track position."

Busch didn't call foul when his replacement at Hendrick Motorsports nudged him off the lead in the low line. Earnhardt accepted blame though it appeared Busch might have cut down on him, and noted he would have done a much more thorough job had he been retaliating for the spring incident.

JUST ENOUGH: Matt Kenseth, who needed to finish 26th or better to clinch a Chase spot — joining Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers to make all five Chases — labored to 39th place but got the spot anyway when his competition faltered. "That's one of worst races I probably could have drove, so it was very frustrating and very disappointing," he said. "I'm glad we're in in a way, but in another way with the way we're operating, I don't think we'll be a factor when we get there."

Almost famous: David Reutimann of Zephyrhills came into Sunday having led six laps in his two-year Sprint Cup career. But his Michael Waltrip Racing team found the perfect setup for his No. 44 Toyota and he led 104 laps — all but two consecutive — before he succumbed to Tony Stewart with 51 laps left. Reutimann finished ninth, equaling a career best set last week at Fontana, Calif.

"We just came up a little short and got too tight to move forward like we needed to," Reutimann said. "I'm sure a lot of people were thinking that once some of the heroes get up there, 'then they will drive right by him,' and that wasn't the case because I was able to hold them off for a while. I think we led the most laps, but I would have taken just leading one lap and that would be the last one."

Richmond produces usual short tempers 09/07/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 7, 2008 10:10pm]
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