Sunday, August 24, 2003

Kenseth can't coast to Cup season title


NASCAR notebook: History shows his big lead isn't safe yet

The Associated Press

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Matt Kenseth tells anyone who asks that he doesn't consider his big lead in the Winston Cup standings a guarantee he'll win the championship.

He's right.

Kenseth headed into Saturday night's Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (where he later finished fourth) with a 329-point lead. With only 13 of 36 races remaining, he appears to be in good position to win his first title and give team owner Jack Roush his first, too.

But a driver can make up as many as 151 points in a single race by winning and leading most laps.

Darrell Waltrip charged back from a 341-point deficit in the final 17 races of 1981 to win the first of his three Winston Cup championships. It is the biggest comeback since NASCAR's current points system was installed in 1975.

Bobby Allison built a huge lead over Waltrip after 14 races in a 31-race season. During an 11-race run in which Waltrip caught Allison, he had nine top-three finishes, including four wins, and never finished outside the top 10.

That put Waltrip on top by two points with six races left and he went on to win by only 53 points despite winning four straight races and adding a second-place finish and a sixth to finish out the season.

The most dramatic comeback was by the late Alan Kulwicki in 1992, when he overcame a 278-point deficit in the final six races to win the title. During that span, he made up an average of more than 48 points a race to beat Bill Elliott by 10 points - the closest points race in Winston Cup history.

In 1979, Richard Petty won the last of his seven championships, making up 229 points on Waltrip in the final 11 races and winning the title by just 11 points.

BUSCH RACE: Winston Cup regular Michael Waltrip used a slight bump-and-run to knock Ron Hornaday out of his way Friday night and went on to win the Busch Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Waltrip lost the lead in the Food City 250 to Hornaday when he struggled on a restart. But with 34 laps to go, Waltrip pulled up on Hornaday's bumper in the fourth turn and tapped him just enough to loosen him up and pass him.

It was Waltrip's first Busch Series win since last August.

SPRAGUE TO RETURN: Three-time champion Jack Sprague will be back in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2004. Sprague, who was fired in July from his Winston Cup ride with Haas CNC Racing, will drive a second truck for Xpress Motorsports, which fields an entry for Travis Kvapil.

Winston Cup leaders by the numbers

(Saturday's race not included)

DriverPointsStartsWinsTop 5Top 10Earnings
1. Matt Kenseth 3,432231918$2,974,010
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3,103231914$3,423,090
3. Jeff Gordon 2,971231811$3,385,980
4. Kevin Harvick 2,953231710$3,423,090
5. Michael Waltrip 2,92323169$3,441,400
6. Jimmie Johnson 2,90823259$3,951,600
7. Bobby Labonte 2,8252311011$3,157,440
8. Ryan Newman 2,816235912$3,201,760
9. Kurt Busch 2,810233710$3,736,840
10. Robby Gordon 2,777232410$2,657,970




BENGALS
Titans 23, Bengals 15
Daugherty: Bengals not there yet
Bengals-Titans stats
Bengals Q & A
Notes: Newcomers split time at end

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REDS
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Anderson 20, Moeller 6
Colerain 42, Boone County 6
La Salle 14, Hamilton 6
Lebanon 38, Harrison 0
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ENQUIRER PAGE TWO
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Page Two power rankings

TENNIS
Roddick in territory Agassi knows well
5 men's favorites
5 women's favorites
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MOTOR SPORTS
Busch bumps way to win
Kenseth can't coast to Cup season title
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GOLF
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BASKETBALL
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ON THE AIR
Sunday's sports on TV, radio