AJ Foyt

March 26 in NASCAR History: Matt Kenseth turns Jeff Gordon, Gordon shoves back

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Bristol Motor Speedway is used to fireworks, and the Food City 500 on March 26, 2006, was no exception.

It began with five laps to go with Matt Kenseth leading Kurt Busch, winner of four of the last eight Bristol races.

Busch, in Team Penske’s No. 2 Ford, got into Kenseth’s rear bumper, causing Kenseth to get wicked sideways and letting Busch rocket by as Kenseth fell to third in front of Jeff Gordon.

With two laps to go, Gordon got Kenseth loose exiting Turn 4 and passed him.

As they raced through Turns 1 and 2 on the last lap, Kenseth returned the favor and sent Gordon into a spin.

Meanwhile, Busch outran Kevin Harvick to the take the checkered flag.

During the cool-down lap, Kenseth showed his own displeasure by quickly driving up to Busch and veering toward him, but not making contact.

Then, as Busch performed snow angels on the frontstretch (it had snowed in the area that weekend), Gordon exited his car with his helmet still on, made a beeline for Kenseth and gave him a hard shove.

“Kenseth got shuffled out and you know, he’s holding guys up,” Gordon told Fox. “I got to him a couple times and showed my nose and he shut the door on me. The next time I got the opportunity I definitely moved him, but I didn’t wreck him. We went down into (Turn) 1 afterwards and he just wrecked me. I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it and all that stuff, but I wasn’t happy about it and I showed it to him after the race. … That stuff rarely ever happens with him. I’m going to give back to him what he gives to me.”

Also on this date:

1955: Fonty Flock, driving a No. 14 car owned by Frank Christian, won a premier series race at Columbia Speedway in Cayce, South Carolina. Flock became the first driver to win a race for Chevrolet in NASCAR’s top series.

1961: Bob Burdick only made 15 Cup Series starts in his career, but he left an impression. At Atlanta this year, Burdick led 44 of 334 laps to score an upset win. According to “NASCAR: The Complete History,” he did so in an unsponsored Pontiac car on used tires and with an inexperienced crew in the pits. He beat Rex White and Ralph Earnhardt.

1972: After making up seven seconds in the last 30 laps, Bobby Allison beat A.J. Foyt by about five car lengths to win at Atlanta. Allison earned Chevrolet’s first win on a speedway since 1963. Allison raced for Junior Johnson, who won that 1963 race at Charlotte.

1995:  After 314 career Cup Series starts, Sterling Marlin earned his first win on a non-restrictor plate track with a victory at Darlington. His first two Cup wins were back-to-back in the Daytona 500 in 1994-95.

2000: Rusty Wallace claimed his eighth career win at Bristol, which also marked his 50th Cup Series win.

NASCAR America: Road racing’s evolution is not yet complete

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In this week’s Bump & Run feature, questions were posed about the most memorable moments in road course history and whether NASCAR should run a race on a street circuit. That provided an opportunity for Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton to share their thoughts on the matter in Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America.

Petty went deep in the vault to the days when NASCAR ran Riverside International Raceway for his most memorable memory.

“I’d never seen a road course in my life; I’m in the third grade,” Petty said. “Dan Gurney is there driving the 121 car. … You watch Gurney – and my Dad took us up to the races and he’s like, watch this guy. That was a road racer. That’s what road racing was. And it was amazing to watch (A.J.) Foyt, amazing to watch those guys when I was eight or nine years old.”

Burton’s memory was not of a specific race, but rather the transition of the sport.

“It’s watching the evolution of road racing,” Burton said. “In regard to Cup drivers, Cup teams. There was a time when they would bring the ringers in. The guys would come in that were road racers. They would contend to win – not sure that they ever won – but contend to win. … The Cup guys have evolved to be so good at what they do – and they know these cars so much better than the guys that come in. The evolution of how teams and drivers look at road racing is fascinating.”

Perhaps that evolution is not complete. Burton would like to see NASCAR compete on a street course, but doesn’t think the answer is particularly easy.

“The thing about a Cup car is they are so heavy, you need a certain amount of street to be able to make racing happen,” Burton said. “So much left, right, left ,right, they can’t really ever get racing; with a Cup car at some point you need some speed.”

“I’d love to see it with this car,” Petty said. “I don’t think we could have done it in the early 2000s; I don’t think we could have done it in the ’90s, I don’t think we could have done it in the ’80s with those cars. But with this car I think it’s possible.”

For more, watch the above video.