Earnhardt outlasts Kenseth



Junior won in a green-and-white checkered flag finish.
BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. outlasted a season-high 13 cautions -- and overtime -- to beat Matt Kenseth in a green-white-checkered flag finish Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt, who started from the pole, led a race-high 125 laps, but several late cautions bunched up the field and gave the competitors a chance to run him down in the Food City 250.
He had a terrific restart with nine laps to go, easily pulling away from Kevin Harvick.
But Kenseth pushed past Harvick and was reeling Earnhardt in when the 13th caution flag came out for a wreck involving Tony Raines and Jay Sauter.
It set up the first green-white-checkered flag finish of the Busch series, and Earnhardt once again got a jump to pull away from Kenseth and ride on to his second Busch series win in four starts this season.
"I was worried because I got a lot of stuff on the tires," Earnhardt said. "But Matt did a good job, he could have run all over me. The last lap I was chugging through corners, just trying to keep it on the bottom.
"He laid off of me. It was a good race, a good win."
Bad tires
Kenseth said he was hampered by spinning his tires on the final restart, which prevented him from closing in on Earnhardt.
"If I wouldn't have spun the tires, I think I would have had a shot at Junior," Kenseth said, nearly drowned out by the cheers for Earnhardt. "But it seems like everybody is happier with this outcome, so that's all right."
Kyle Busch finished third, snapping his streak of two straight Busch series victories. Harvick was fourth, giving Nextel Cup regulars three of the top four spots.
David Green was fifth, David Stremme sixth and points leader Martin Truex Jr. was seventh. But his lead was cut from 97 points to 78 over Busch.
Truex, who was involved in an early wreck with Greg Biffle, was clearly irritated after the race.
"It's pretty frustrating," he said. "I guess Biffle was [mad] and decided to wreck somebody, and it was a tough break."
Earnhardt, who has been in a Nextel Cup slump the second half of the season and fairly unimpressive since he suffered burns in a July non-NASCAR wreck, is hoping to carry some momentum into tonight's Sharpie 500.
"We've got to get better," he said. "We don't point fingers, we'll just all gather ourselves and do the best we can each week."
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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