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Tempers flare, and 140,000 enjoy some old school Bristol racing

Tempers flare, and 140,000 enjoy some old school Bristol racing

Denny Hamlin celebrates....but few other drivers have much to smile about

   By Mike Mulhern

   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   Angry drivers, driving angrily. Heated emotions freely offered.
   Mass confusion for nearly three hours.
    Perfect weather.
   And a huge crowd of some 140,000.
   Ah, all is finally right again in this little part of the NASCAR world. The order of things has been restored.

   First things first:
   Tony Stewart was not happy with Matt Kenseth:
   "I checked-up twice to not run over him (Kenseth), and I learned my lesson there. I'm going to run over him every chance I've got from now until the end of the year. Every chance I've got."
   Well, Kenseth hasn't been very happy with Stewart lately either. He said he'd tried to mend some fences with Stewart a few weeks ago, and that went nowhere.
   Now this: "I'm a little confused.  I was running the top, leading, and he got a run.  And he went into turn one like I wasn't there, and just went straight to the fence. 
    "If I wouldn't have lifted -- like he chose not to do the next corner -- we would have wrecked. So I let him have it.
    "And I got a run back -- drove all the way along side of him, and we just kept going.
     "I'd lifted down there or else we would have wrecked... and he chose not to lift and wrecked us both.
     "He's already had two in this series he's pretty much taken us out of, and I told him after Indy I was going to race him the way he raced me. And I did the exact same thing down there that he did down there... except he didn't give it to me. 
    "I guess he just wanted to do all the taking."
   Stewart's taunting?
     "Look, Tony is probably the greatest race car driver in the garage," Kenseth said. "I don't really have anything bad to say about Tony.
      "On the track for years and years and years we've had tons of respect for each other.
    "For whatever reason this year he ran me off the track at Sears Point and said he was sorry.  It cost me seven spots in the finishing order.
     " And at Indy he was mad because he said I blocked him. I asked for five minutes of his time to clear the air and he wouldn't give it to me... and pretty much just got cussed out... and knocked my whole side off and put us in position to get wrecked.
    "So I just said 'Okay, that's fine.  I'm just going to race you the same way you race me.'
    "If you look at it, we did the exact same thing... it's just he didn't lift. I don't really see where that's 100 percent my fault."

    Brad Keselowski, prerace favorite, never had that much going, and then he got caught up in a tussle that took him out.
    "Something happened to Brian Vickers, and he checked-up," Keselowski said. "I couldn't go anywhere and got hit from behind and it put me into the fence."
   Up till then Keselowski was oddly not that competitive. "We were just fair," he conceded. "We weren't prepared for the track to drive this stupid. We'll come back here and adapt to it.
    "I know the goal was to make a one-groove track so there'd be more action. But it had an inverse effect, to where now everybody is running up against the wall. And the pace, combined with hard tires, has made the track just even more of an aerodynamic fest"

   It wasn't a great night, all in all, for Stewart's three-car operation.
   First out was Ryan Newman, in a tangle with Juan Pablo Montoya.
  Tony Gibson, Newman's crew chief, wasn't blaming Montoya: "Ryan said somebody got into the left-rear of him and cut the left-rear tire. The lap before that he started getting really loose, and then it just turned around on him.
    "He didn't say anything about Montoya. I think we were going to spin out no matter what, with that left-rear tire."
    It trapped Jeff Burton, who was having a good night up till then.
    "I saw Ryan in trouble and he started spinning," Burton said. "He looked like he was going to stay against the wall, and so I committed to the bottom. Then he started down, and I couldn't get turned back to the right.
    "We had a really fast car and we needed a good run, needed something good to happen. We had a good enough car to have that happen.
    "It's just been one of those years. I guess the saying is that if He wouldn't put it on you if you couldn't take it... so I guess I must be pretty tough."

   In other NASCAR news:

   -- Greg Zipadelli, competition director for the Tony Stewart-Ryan Newman-Danica Patrick Cup team, is noncommittal about reports that he may take over as Stewart's Sprint Cup crew chief for the 2013 season.
   Zipadelli, 45, was Stewart's crew chief from 1999 till 2009, winning two NASCAR championships while together at Joe Gibbs'. Stewart left Gibbs in 2009 to run his own team; Zipadelli left Gibbs at the end of last season to rejoin Stewart.
   Zipadelli, on 2013: "Well, I do miss being up on the pit box." Zipadelli this season is crew chief for Patrick's 10 Cup races.
   Zipadelli was also noncommittal about the report that Steve Addington, Stewart's current crew chief, might move to the Patrick side of the shop to run Patrick's expanded Cup program next season.

   -- The Boston Red Sox' blockbuster $250 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers may not be the only big financial move John Henry and his Fenway Sports Group are involved in. The Dodgers deal is to cut Boston's costs.
   There are reports that Henry may now also be looking to sell his 50 percent stake in Roush Fenway Racing. Henry paid a reported $78 million to buy that share in 2007.
    Forbes magazine valued Roush Fenway Racing at $224 million at the end of the 2010 NASCAR season, second only to Rick Hendrick's operation it valued at $350 million.
    Last month Chartwell Investments announced it is considering selling its stake in Richard Childress Racing. Neither Chartwell nor Childress has put a dollar figure on that investment. The Childress operation was valued by Forbes in 2010 at $153 million.
   Private investors have become noticeable in the sport in recent years.
   Rob Kauffman, an international investor, bought a 50 percent stake in Michael Waltrip's race team in 2007, for a price not disclosed; the team was valued by Forbes in 2010 at $88 million.
   However the real value of a NASCAR team may not be anywhere near those figures.
   For example, Richard Petty Motorsports (during the ill-fated George Gillett period) was valued by Forbes in 2010 at $124 million; but NYC's Andrew Murstein (who has the city's taxi medallion franchise) and partner Doug Bergeron bought RPM for much less than that, a reported $12 million.

Tony the Tiger Strikes Again

Stewart needs to come to the realization that every driver on the track is not going to pull over and let him pass. Any time someone races him hard, as they should, he acts like he's the only one that can race that way and (whoever it is) is supposed to back off and relinquish the position. Then it's his generic rant about "I'm going to wreck him every chance I get the rest of the season". Enough, Tony. You're act has wore itself out. If more drivers would take the Brian Vickers approach with Stewart, then he suddenly becomes a pussy cat when you put him in his place. See Sears Point 2011.

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