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Martin expands Chase lead with New Hampshire win

"Martin just screwed me - he just stopped the car on the apex, right on the bottom, and I had nowhere to go," Montoya said. "I could have pushed him out of the way … but I respect him a lot. (Next time) I won't wreck him, but I will bump him. …

"I thought I had him. He cleared me through (turns) three and four, and when he got to one and two he just stopped at the bottom."

Tony Stewart, the points leader through the first 26 races, dropped four positions to sixth in the standings after a rare glitch dropped him to 14th at the finish.

Stewart lost track position during a 45-second pit stop under caution on lap 194, as his crew repaired a loose left rear-axle cap. The driver of the #14 Chevy restarted 26th on lap 198, and though he quickly drove up to 20th in the running order, a tight handling condition prevented him from making further headway.

Brian Vickers likewise had trouble in the pits, as his crew had to push his car backwards to fasten a dropped lug nut under caution on lap 142. The driver of the #83 Toyota, who raced his way into the Chase on Sept. 12 at Richmond, restarted 30th on lap 147 and fought back for an eleventh-place run, good for eighth in the standings.

"I didn't have reverse," a frustrated Vickers radioed to crew chief Ryan Pemberton after the stop. "I blew it out the first time I tried to back it up. When you're asking me to back it up, and you don't see the car moving, that's your sign to push it."

Kasey Kahne was the first casualty among the Chase drivers. On Lap 67, one circuit short of a green-flag pit stop, Kahne's engine exploded as he rolled through turn four.

"I'm having a problem - I'm blowing up," Kahne radioed to crew chief Kenny Francis, who asked if it might be that the #9 Dodge was out of fuel.

"No, it was shaking inside. I could feel it the last lap," Kahne responded, before taking the car to the garage, doomed to a 38th-place finish. Kahne is 12th in the standings, 161 points behind Martin.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



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