Rookie Hamlin has issues with Martin

By wire services
Published April 3, 2006

MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Mark Martin has a reputation for being one of the cleanest drivers in NASCAR, the kind of guy who never resorts to cheapshots to get something he couldn't otherwise earn and who is a mentor for up-and-coming talent.

Good luck getting rookie Denny Hamlin to see it that way.

"I respect Mark Martin like no other," Hamlin said Sunday after contact with Martin took him out of the DirecTV 500 early and sent him to a 37th place finish.

Hamlin said he was running in 14th place, on the lead lap, with Martin one lap down when Martin's Ford bounced off the wall and into Hamlin's Chevrolet, which spun out and crashed.

"This ain't the first time," fumed Hamlin. "At Las Vegas, he ran me into the wall. There's so many races I can say the 6 car didn't give me any room."

BOYS WILL BE BOYS: The payback-taking frenzy that some expected at Martinsville never materialized, but Matt Kenseth probably feels like he's even with Kurt Busch .

Busch certainly does.

A week after Busch nudged Kenseth aside to take the lead en route to winning at Bristol, Kenseth exacted his revenge with 33 laps to go, clipping Busch's Dodge and sending it hard into the backstretch wall.

"Guess we're even with the 17 car," Busch said.

WARD WANTS BACK IN: Ward Burton could be getting closer to returning to NASCAR racing and made his first appearance at a track this season at Martinsville Speedway.

Once intent on coming back only for a quality team in NASCAR's top series, Burton said he is becoming more open-minded about racing in the Busch or truck series.

If no ride comes his way, Burton said he could accept that, too.

"I can live with it. I mean, I'm living with it right now and I'm fine," he said.

Burton, who won the Daytona 500 in 2002, founded the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation in 1996.