Aggressiveness leads to wrecks

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AVONDALE, Ariz. --- Sprint Cup drivers normally don't race each other too hard early in the season, particularly early in races.

Cars pile up during a crash in Sunday's race at Phoenix. The aggressive driving style was unusual for this early in the year. Clint Bower said his fellow competitors are "driving like idiots."   Associated Press
Associated Press
Cars pile up during a crash in Sunday's race at Phoenix. The aggressive driving style was unusual for this early in the year. Clint Bower said his fellow competitors are "driving like idiots."

That wasn't the case at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday.

With cars bouncing around, Phoenix looked a lot like Talladega for while. Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was an early victim. Robbie Gordon spun and damaged his car, and Carl Edwards got knocked out for a while when Kyle Busch appeared to get loose and bumped him.

The big one came on Lap 67.

Matt Kenseth triggered it when he went up the track a little and made contact with Brian Vickers , knocking his car loose. Vickers tried to gather his car, but got sideways, setting off a chain- reaction wreck that sent cars careening into the walls on both sides of the track.

The red flag came out and so did the wreckers after 13 cars were involved, leading to a 14-minute delay while officials cleaned the mess up.

"We're all smarter than this, we're all better race car drivers than this," said Clint Bowyer , who was collected in the wreck. "We're driving like idiots. Everybody is taking two tires, four tires -- everybody is on completely different agendas right there and we never could get going. It's just stupid."

BAYNE'S WEEKEND: Bayne had a rough post-Daytona weekend.

He had the brakes lock up on the first lap of Sprint Cup practice Friday, sending his car into the wall and forcing him to a backup. He had a solid run going after starting seventh in the Nationwide race, only to end up in the wall again after a tire blew, finishing 31st.

Bayne hit the wall for a third time on Lap 50 of Sunday's race, spinning out after trying to squeeze in front of Travis Kvapil . He never returned and finished 40th.

"That tough coming off of our high at Daytona to come to this, but we've got a great race team behind us," Bayne said. "We'll be back at Vegas. I hate it ended this way this weekend, but we'll be back."

HENDRICK BOUNCES BACK: Hendrick Motorsports had a disappointing Daytona 500, leaving the team owner wondering what went wrong.

What a difference a week makes.

At Daytona, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon had lengthy trips to the garage, Mark Martin faded from contention and Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked on the green-white-checkered restart.

Hendrick's drivers didn't qualify well at Phoenix -- Gordon was best at 20th -- but they made up for it on race day. Not only did Gordon win, ending his 66-race winless streak, Johnson wasn't far behind in third, Earnhardt finished 10th after starting 25th, and Martin was 13th.

REPAVING PHOENIX: Watching out the window from the media center, Johnson was surprised to see a giant tractor drive up the backstretch and park at the start/finish line.

Phoenix International Raceway will undergo a $10 million repaving and reconfiguration project before the next race in the fall. The project's expected to take six months, but race officials didn't hesitate to show they're ready to get started, wheeling a big-boomed tractor out to the front of the grandstand.

The tractor stretched out, put its bucket on the pavement and the operator climbed out.

The real action didn't come until later, when the tractor took its first chunk of the old asphalt out with a series of ground-shaking thuds. A small group of fans stuck around to watch, but Johnson was long gone.

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