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Auto racing briefs

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000


Kenseth easily wins Busch race

DOVER, Del. -- Matt Kenseth, tuning up for his regular ride 24 hours later, drove to an easy victory in the NASCAR Busch Grand National event Saturday at Dover Downs International Speedway.

Next, he goes for the second win of his Winston Cup career today in the MBNA.com 400. In just three starts on the Monster Mile in NASCAR's elite division, Kenseth has three top-10 finishes -- including second behind Tony Stewart in June.

The victory Saturday in the MBNA.com 200 was his second in Busch competition on the high-banked concrete track where he won the fall race in 1998. It was his third Busch win this season and 10th overall.

"In happy hour yesterday we found something wrong with it, something fell apart," Kenseth said of his Chevrolet. "The guys put their heads together and put the setup back the way it was.

"We made one big adjustment the first time, and other than that it was pretty good."

The Cambridge, Wis., driver, 28, started 14th and took the top spot for the final time by passing the Pontiac of Dave Blaney on the 161st of 200 laps. Kenseth then drove off to win by 1.842 seconds over Jason Keller.

The race was run without interruption from the weather after rain all morning. The rain cleaned all the rubber off the track, making tire management a key.

Kenseth led three times for 102 laps, averaging 109.040 mph in a race slowed four times by 28 laps of caution.

Series points leader Jeff Green crashed early and wound up 42nd in a field of 43. But he maintained a 516-point lead over Keller.

Pole-sitter Mike Skinner and Elton Sawyer escaped unhurt from fiery wrecks.

MBNA.COM 400: Jeff Burton hopes the chase for this season's Winston Cup championship becomes a battle over which driver is best at adapting to his surroundings.

If it does, Burton believes his team may have an advantage.

After a stunning victory last weekend in New Hampshire in which he led all 300 laps using a NASCAR-mandated restrictor plate for the first time, Burton has moved into second place in the series points race, 168 behind Bobby Labonte with eight races left.

Burton is by no means the only driver with a plausible chance at the championship -- Dale Jarrett is 174 behind and Dale Earnhardt is 201 behind.

But over the second half of the season, Jarrett and Earnhardt have both taken their turn in the second spot only to fall aside. Burton, whose best points finish was fourth in 1997, is relishing the challenge.

"It all depends on who's going to adapt and who's going to be ready for this stretch -- and the stretch is coming at the end of a grueling year," said Burton, who will start 21st today at Dover Downs International Speedway. Labonte starts 17th.

"Over the last three months or so, we've been able to break even or gain a little on Bobby, we're about the only team that's been able to do that. We've not done anything extraordinary, we've been consistent, we've not had any terrible races."

Today on TV:

NASCAR, MBNA.com 400, 12:30 p.m., TNN (9:30, Fox Sports Net, taped).

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