Originally created 07/15/06

For dueling drivers, talk doesn't help any



LOUDON, N.H. -- Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon met to talk through their differences earlier this week.

They failed to reconcile, though. In fact, the discussion over Gordon's spinning of Kenseth in the closing laps of last weekend's USG Sheetrock 400 might have added to the ill will between the two drivers.

"It was kind of one of those things where he came over and apologized but wasn't very apologetic, if you know what I mean," Kenseth said of the talk, which took place Wednesday during a test session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "He almost acted like he was mad at me."

There is mutual animosity between the two drivers as they prepare for Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Last week's run-in is the second of the season involving Gordon and Kenseth. The first came in March at Bristol, where Kenseth spun Gordon late in the race. Gordon retaliated afterwards, shoving Kenseth on pit road.

"I look at the Bristol incident, and this incident is so similar," Gordon said Friday. "He came up to me and said he was sorry and didn't mean to do it, but I was fuming for a long time after that. All I do know, and people can believe me or not believe me, that wasn't payback."

NASCAR officials believed Gordon. They didn't penalize him for the wreck, even after the four-time series champion said he intended to push Kenseth out of the way without wrecking him.

The lack of disciplinary action puzzled Kenseth. He said Gordon hung back several car lengths on a restart prior to the incident - a common yet illegal practice that allows a trailing car to build speed and momentum. Gordon was not penalized for the act, and Kenseth reacted by blocking a Gordon pass attempt.

A few laps later, Gordon caught Kenseth again. He rammed into the back of Kenseth's car this time, spinning him out at 180 mph. The collision was unnecessary, Kenseth said, because Gordon had the better car and likely would have passed him later that same lap.

NASCAR's inaction left Kenseth sounding like a conspiracy theorist Friday.

"Everybody's probably not judged the same," Kenseth said. "Everybody needs to know their spot, and I certainly know where my spot in the sport is."

NEWMAN ON POLE: Ryan Newman followed up his victory in the last Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway by winning the pole Friday for this weekend's Lenox Industrial Tools 300.

Newman ran an average speed of 129.883 to capture his second pole of the season and his fourth in nine career starts at Loudon.

"This is the same car we had here last September when we won the race," Newman said. "It's been tweaked on, and we'll see if it's better this time around."

Jeff Burton qualified second and starts beside Newman on the front row. Brian Vickers qualified third followed by Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart. Jimmie Johnson starts sixth, Gordon seventh, Martin Truex Jr. eighth, Reed Sorenson ninth and Kurt Busch 10th.

EDWARDS EMBRACES ROOTS: Carl Edwards returns to driving modified stock cars today when he races in the Whelen Modified Tour's New England 100 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Edwards first gained fame as a driver in modified cars at his home track, Capital Speedway near Jefferson City, Mo. He won the track title in modifieds in 1999 and pro modifieds in 2000.

"Racing the modifieds will be a blast," Edwards said. "I'm fast in those cars. It gives me a good chance at a rare top-15 at Loudon."

Edwards' modified moonlighting will make for a busy day.

He will qualify for the Busch Series' New England 200 at 11 a.m., compete in the modifieds' race at 1 p.m. and drive in the Busch event at 3 p.m.

Edwards will also drive in Sunday's Nextel Cup event. He qualified 17th Friday for the Lenox Industrial Tools 300.

Reach Adam Van Brimmer at (404) 589-8424 or adam.vanbrimmer@morris.com.