Kenseth Sharp Again At Bristol

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Matt Kenseth is on a roll that may lead him to a second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title.

Kenseth became the first driver since Dale Earnhardt turned the trick in 1987 and 1988 to win back-to-back August races at Bristol Motor Speedway after he scored the victory in Saturday night's Sharpie 500.

It was the fourth NEXTEL Cup Series win of the season for Kenseth and second straight after his victory at Michigan International Speedway last Sunday.

"This is pretty cool," said Kenseth, who also won Saturday night's Busch Series race at Bristol. "The last two weeks have been fun, and it is so awesome to win at Bristol."

The win moved Kenseth to only seven points behind Jimmie Johnson for the series point lead and locked the two into the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup."

"We have momentum, but it could be lost at any time," Kenseth said. "We've got a lot of racing to do and a lot of work to do, but right now we're operating at a championship level. If we go into the Chase like this we'll have a shot at the championship."

Kenseth worked his way around Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on lap 399 and drove away in his DeWalt Tools Ford to the win.

"The guys are operating at a championship level," Kenseth said. "I was worried about going into the 'Chase' and not running good. But this is what it's about, bringing your best piece and go there and try to win some races."

Kyle Busch bounced back from an early loose wheel problem and unscheduled pit stop to finish second with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Scott Riggs and Jeff Gordon rounding out the Top 5.

Earnhardt, Jr. came from a 40th starting position to finish third and moved up to ninth in the standings.

"I feel a whole lot better now as far as trying to get in," Earnhardt, Jr. said of his "Chase" chances. "All of us have really just got to watch what we are doing, minimize mistakes and utilize every minute of practice we get."

"I think we've got a really good shot of it. Before it was really just 50-50, up for grabs."

Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton and Johnson completed the first ten finishers.

It wasn't a good night for polesitter Kurt Busch, who was looking for a sweep of Bristol NEXTEL Cup races this season.

Busch led in the early going but suffered damage to his front end after making contact with Reed Sorenson. Later he was penalized for speeding on pit road and finally had the transmission in his Millr Lite Dodge blow.

Busch wound up 37th, ending his outside shot to make the "Chase."

A couple of other drivers looking to make the "Chase" had up and down nights.

Mark Martin came home with a 28th place finish that dropped him six spots down to the tenth and final transfer spot in the standings.

Polesitter Burton wound up leading 262 laps Saturday night and held on for ninth, moving up from ninth to seventh in the standings.

The NEXTEL Cup Series now heads to California Speedway for next Sunday night's Sony HD 500.




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