Hamlin, Petty have midrace confrontation

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Author: Gary Graves
Date: Sept. 24, 2007
From: USA Today
Publisher: USA Today
Document Type: Article
Length: 586 words

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Byline: Gary Graves

DOVER, Del. -- Denny Hamlin could handle losing his chance at sweeping this weekend's races at Dover International Speedway. He drew the line when Kyle Petty lost his temper and took a swing at him.

Trying to follow up Saturday's Busch Series victory at Dover by winning Sunday's Dodge Dealers 400, Hamlin was contending for half of the race until his Chevrolet got into the back of Petty's Dodge on lap 204 of 400. Petty was done after spinning into the wall and Clint Bowyer endured collateral damage, while Hamlin came out with the right side of his front splitter crushed.

As Hamlin sat in his car waiting for his crew to repair the damage, an enraged Petty came over and pulled down his window net, then slapped at Hamlin's helmet before walking away yelling and pointing at him. Hamlin was soon out of the car and headed toward Petty before crews separated them.

"You don't come to my car, you don't come to my pit; you meet me somewhere else and we'll settle it. ... I have the utmost respect for Kyle, but don't lay your hands on my head."

Hamlin said he wasn't trying to wreck Petty, but the veteran wasn't having it.

"It's a shame because he's got a ton of talent," Petty said. "He just drives stupid sometimes, and that was a stupid move. ... He needs to think (about) the whole race, not just part of the race. If he can't think for (400) miles, he needs to start pacing himself. Maybe he used all his good stuff (in his Busch Series win)."

Franchitti debut: When Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti decides to drive stock cars, Nextel Cup team owner Chip Ganassi hopes to start him off in the Oct. 5 ARCA Re/Max Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Saying Sunday that Franchitti "definitely wants to do it," Ganassi is waiting for the Scot to clear several obligations before bringing him to NASCAR. Franchitti, currently under contract to Andretti Green Racing, will drive in the Oct.6 American Le Mans Series Petit LeMans race at Road Atlanta. "We're trying to get him in there," Ganassi said. "We're feverishly working at it, and we're confident that we'll be able to put something together with him."

Crewman hurt: Michael Waltrip's gas man, Art Harris, was taken to a hospital after being hit from behind by a loose tire during the fourth caution period. The 65-pound Goodyear tire from Dale Jarrett's car flew toward Waltrip's stall on pit road after being struck by David Ragan's Ford. Harris was treated and released.

Staying the course: Team Red Bull reiterated its commitment to Toyota during the weekend. "The rumor keeps coming up, but we are staying with Toyota," vice president of competition Guenther Steiner said. "We don't want to want leave Toyota; we want to stay with them, and I hope I have to say it for the last time now."

Pit notes: Joe Gibbs Racing prospect Joey Logano, 17, became the youngest touring series champ in NASCAR history by clinching the Busch East title Friday at Dover. Pole-sitter Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt and nephew of Dale Earnhardt Jr., was third. ... Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief, will leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. next month to begin preparing for his cousin's arrival at Hendrick Motorsports. Tony Gibson, who filled in for Eury while he served a six-race suspension, or Steve Hmeil will fill in.

Contributing: A.J Perez

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A169058936