MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) - Jeff Gordon said earlier in the week he figured his chances of getting back into contention for a fifth series championship were pretty much gone.
On Sunday, Kurt Busch helped make sure there was no doubt, bumping Gordon coming out of the fourth turn and sending him slamming into the front-stretch wall and out of contention.
Turns out, Busch holds a grudge. For a long time.
``He shoved me in there and I shoved him back in Turn 4,'' Busch said before detailing a history of discontent with Gordon at Martinsville. ``I didn't mean to get into him that hard, but over the years with Gordon here, back in the 97 (car), wrecking the 2 car, whether you're a current Kurt fan or ex-Rusty (Wallace) fan, he's wrecked the 2 car a lot here.''
Wallace, now a television announcer, drove the No. 2 car before Busch.
``His chicken move afterward wasn't called for, but that shows the game we're gonna play,'' Busch said. ``One bump versus another bump, it still seems like the scorecard isn't even.''
Gordon said he was to blame, at least for part of the initial contact.
``We ran him down quite a bit, we were quite a bit faster than him,'' Gordon said of the first issue. ``I dove inside of him in Turn 3 and I definitely over-shot it a little bit. Either he didn't know I was there or whatever and cut down on me and I got into him.''
Gordon had been running near the front all race, but finished 20th.
``Kurt Busch doesn't have a very long fuse, so either it was pay-back or he just got angry really quick and decided to wreck us,'' Gordon said of Busch's costly nudge.
The two got together one more time later, and Gordon said he wasn't sure why.
``I guess I didn't know he was on the outside of me,'' he said.
MEMORABLE: Mark Martin has had a forgettable season one year after his bid for a long-coveted Sprint Cup championship came up short, but made for a gripping, feel-good story.
He missed the Chase for the championship this year, was 15th in points and winless.
Sunday made up for a lot of it as he recovered from going two laps down early in the race and drove a battered race car to a second-place finish, his best of the season.
``Gosh, that was so much fun, and it was such a bad day,'' he said after rallying from a miserable start to pass Kevin Harvick in the closing laps. ``I was running out of brakes at lap 30 and I thought, `This is going to be the longest day of my life.'''
Instead, it proved to be not long enough because he couldn't chase down Denny Hamlin.
``Another 20 laps and we could have caught him,'' he said. ``I never really have enjoyed this place, to be honest. But that last hundred laps was fun.''
TEAMMATE TROUBLE: Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton of Richard Childress Racing had a spat when they were racing close near the lead during a restart with about 150 laps to go.
Burton slid in line in front of Harvick, and Harvick nudged him to show his displeasure.
``He is out of mulligans. He's done it to me three times now,'' Harvick said on his radio.
Burton was adamant he did nothing wrong.
``I have no clue what he could be possibly upset about,'' he said after the race.
Burton also offered some advice to his teammate.
``There will come a point when he realizes that everybody in the world is not against him. And every time it's a conflict, he is involved,'' he said. ``And you would think over the amount of years that he has done it, that he would get the hint that he is always in the middle of it and maybe sometimes if he just backed up a little bit and caught his breath, he would be okay. I'm not out to harm him. I am a teammate of his and I am trying to help him.''
Perhaps, Burton said, Harvick is wound up by contending for the championship, but regardless, he needs to figure out a better way to voice his displeasure, he said.
``If what I did was wrong,'' he said, ``then I will just quit racing.''
QUOTE: ``I've been here since '49. I ain't going nowhere.'' - Richard Petty, who declined to address rumors that he's trying to form a group to buy Richard Petty Motorsports, the organization he co-owns with George Gillett Jr., or that the team could fold.

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Driver Odds
Odds to Win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup 2017 Championship
Martin Truex, Jr. #78 +175
Kevin Harvick #4 +225
Kyle Busch #18 +225
Brad Keselowski #2 +350

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