BRISTOL, Tenn. - Kasey Kahne probably should send Matt Kenseth a thank you note.
The only thing Kenseth has coming from Dale Jarrett might be some sign language, Tony Stewart-style.
During Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kenseth was instrumental in helping Kahne secure a spot in the top 35 in points, knocking Jarrett out of the race and the top 35 in the process.
Starting next week in Martinsville, the top 35 in this year's points earn automatic spots in every Nextel Cup race. Kahne entered 36th and left 34th. Jarrett, meanwhile, tumbled from 33rd to 37th.
Kenseth was responsible for Jarrett's early exit. He knocked the veteran up into the wall between turns one and two. After the impact, which sheared the wing off his Car of Tomorrow, Jarrett slid back down the track only to be T-boned by David Gilliland.
The crash took both cars out of the race. Jarrett finished 42nd, Gilliland 41st.
"The car was good; I was having a good time," Jarrett said. "It's fun racing, but it's not fun when somebody does something like that. It's not the first time, but it will be the last."
This was the second straight Food City 500 in which a driver took issue with Kenseth. Last year, Kenseth spun out Jeff Gordon at the end of the race, and a helmet-clad Gordon shoved Kenseth in pit row in a clip that quickly entered heavy rotation on highlight reels.
After the wreck, Jarrett climbed from his Toyota and shook his fist at Kenseth as he passed.
"Everybody has this great vision that Matt Kenseth is this nice guy on the racetrack," Jarrett said. "He is a nice guy away from the track, but he's a rough driver on the racetrack when he doesn't have to be. We'll have a discussion."
Kahne, who qualified third, seemed on track for a top-five or top-10 finish, but had a tire go flat on lap 282 and got tagged by Clint Bowyer. Kahne settled for 19th place, finishing three laps down.
It was the third straight race in which Kahne wrecked, but at least he was able to finish.
"Despite the damage, it was fast when we returned to the track after the accident," he said. "We just couldn't overcome the three-lap deficit."
Jeff Green, who was on the bubble at 35th in points heading into Bristol, soared eight spots after a sixth-place finish.
TIME MACHINE: Thanks to Mark Martin's decision to stick to his part-time schedule and bypass Bristol, Gordon essentially was guaranteed the new points lead by starting Sunday's race on the pole.
It's been more than 20 years since a Cup points leader did not compete in a race while holding the lead. The last time was in 1983, when Cale Yarborough did not race at Richmond after winning the Daytona 500.
Regan Smith drove the U.S. Army Chevrolet in Martin's stead. He finished 25th.
BEGINNER'S LUCK?: BMS can be tough on newcomers. David Ragan, the rookie who replaced Martin in Roush Fenway Racing's No. 6 Ford, looked like a newbie on several occasions.
Ragan was responsible for four of the 15 cautions during Sunday's race, including the final one that led to a green-white- checkered finish.
"I'm wore out, I won't lie," Ragan said after finishing 26th. "Shoot, I haven't been this tired in a long time."
LAST LAPS: Reed Sorenson spun out on lap 18 to bring out the first caution of the race. He finished last. … Four cars failed to finish - including Ryan Newman's Dodge, which blew a radiator when he plowed into the back of Martin Truex Jr. on lap 310. … Overall, Greg Biffle (fifth) made the biggest gain in the points, climbing 11 spots to 16th.
LAST WORD: "It was pretty easy, to be honest." - Juan Pablo Montoya, when asked about his first Nextel Cup race at Bristol. He finished 32nd.