RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Busch series leader Martin Truex Jr. was knocked from the race at Richmond International Raceway after just over 200 laps Friday night, tightening the points race and leaving him furious with Mike Wallace.

Truex was already well back in the field just after 200 laps when he was squeezed by Wallace in Turn 3. That sent Truex’s Chevrolet onto its side, sparks flying as its wheels hugged the track’s outside retaining wall.

“I don’t know, maybe he’s blind,” Truex said. “I was outside him and he was moving up like I wasn’t there. It’s just ridiculous. We don’t need this stuff happening.”

Wallace said there was no intent.

“I didn’t know Martin was on the outside of me,” he said. “It’s my fault. I’ll take the blame for it.”

Truex eventually drove the car onto pit road and climbed out helmet in hand. He ignored the NASCAR officials and an ambulance that had come to attend to him.

Walking toward the track to the delight of fans, apparently stalking Wallace, Truex watched the entire field go by, but didn’t see Wallace until he had diverted his attention to pit road. When he finally noticed Wallace going by, it was too late for him to do anything but flip his finger in the air in the direction of Wallace.

Truex came into the race with a 142-point lead over Clint Bowyer, but a finish of 27th reduced the advantage to just 94 with seven races remaining. Bowyer finished 11th.

Truex’s team took his battered car to the garage, tore off much of the damaged sheet metal and sent it back onto the track. NASCAR officials warned the team that he was allowed back on the track only to race for points, not to exact his revenge.

After Truex returned, he repeated the gesture as Wallace drove by, but no contact was made.

“If he’s upset, I’m sorry for it,” said Wallace, who wound up 26th, one spot ahead of Truex, the defending series champion. “He had plenty of gestures for me.”

Earlier in the race, Truex was racing with his hood flapping on one side, seemingly ready to pop up at any time when NASCAR showed him the black flag, ordering him to pit road to make repairs before the hood flew open and caused a big accident.

He made several laps while he and his team appealed to NASCAR, then finally was warned to pit or risk having his laps stop counting until he visited pit road.

AP-ES-09-09-05 2253EDT

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