By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Monday at Martinsville, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth found themselves in the catbird seat to potentially take home their first victory of the season. They were up front after Denny Hamlin and his crew chief Mike Ford decided to pit for four tires late in the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500.
“We were just kind of riding there at the end, going to come home third, then that caution came out, leaders came in. Steve Letarte made a great call to stay out. When we heard about all the cars that stayed out behind us, we felt we were definitely the car to beat for the win,” Gordon said following the race.
Gordon had the race locked up, until Kyle Busch crashed with about 200-feet remaining on the next to last lap of the race. This set up a wild green white checkered finish.
“Everything was great. We were a hundred feet away from getting that white flag, getting the victory. So that’s frustrating,” Gordon added.
On the green flag Matt Kenseth decided to dive bomb Jeff Gordon for the win. Kenseth and Gordon slammed in the turn, and Jeff Gordon turned left into Kenseth’s right-rear quarter panel which sent Kenseth out of the groove, into the wall, and out of contention for the win. In the chaos Denny Hamlin slipped through to get his third career victory at the paperclip.
NASCAR preached that they wanted more rivalries on the track this season, and thus far the drivers haven’t disappointed. However this one if you remember isn’t a new rivalry… In the 2006 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway Matt Kenseth bumped Jeff Gordon on the final lap which sent Gordon spinning. Following the event Gordon famously shoved Kenseth, with his helmet still on.
Months later while battling for the lead at the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicago, Jeff Gordon would send Matt Kenseth for a spin on the final lap, and would go on to win the race. The rivalry looked to be done then and there, but obviously Gordon still had some ill-feelings for Kenseth.
When Kenseth made the move to go all-in for the win, and do anything including not braking at Martinsville Jeff Gordon had enough and stifled that attempt.
“I looked at my mirror, 17 was pretty far behind me. Made sure I didn’t drive in too deep. Next thing I know, I got nailed,” Gordon said, ” I made sure he didn’t win the race down the straightaway.”
Now the feud is back on, the rivalry is renewed. Oh and these two aren’t hacks looking to just settle a score, these guys are NASCAR Sprint Cup Champions who are in the running for the 2010 championship… this may get pretty intense.