DOVER, Del. - Denny Hamlin's car crashed into Kyle Petty's bumper. Then a furious Petty got in Hamlin's face. Hamlin responded with verbal threats about wanting to fight.

With all the finger pointing and trash talking, it's too bad Ric Flair didn't stick around after his Busch Series appearance a day earlier to watch this skirmish.

Hamlin, one of the 12 Chase drivers, caught Petty from behind and they wrecked shortly past the midway point of Sunday's 400-mile race at Dover International Speedway. Both cars went to the garage, but Hamlin stayed in his with his helmet on while his crew worked on repairs.

Petty, who was being lapped, entered the garage and pulled off Hamlin's window net. They exchanged words, Petty pointed at Hamlin and slapped the visor down on Hamlin's helmet.

Petty accused Hamlin of being too aggressive and taking too much space in one of the turns.

"It's a shame that a guy with that much talent has to drive like that," Petty said. "We've seen it a lot. We've seen it all year long. Even his teammate, Tony Stewart, talked about it. I think it pretty much speaks for itself."

After the slap - and after Petty walked away - Hamlin eventually got out of his car, took off his helmet and tried to go after Petty. He was restrained by officials.

No one could muzzle his mouth.

"Don't smack me on the helmet," Hamlin said. "You smack me on the helmet and I'm going to punch you in the face, bottom line. So I'd like for him to call me some time this week.

"You don't come to my car. You don't come to my pit. You meet me somewhere else and we'll settle it. I have the utmost respect for Kyle, but don't lay your hands on my head."

Petty also accused Hamlin of lacking focus after winning the Busch Series race on Saturday. Hamlin shot down that accusation, saying he has too much to worry about in his pursuit of a Nextel Cup title.

"The biggest thing is that I know Kyle gets run over a lot and a lot of the reason is that he's so far off the pace," Hamlin said. "We're in a clutter of leaders and he's racing his own little battle and some days it's your day and some days it's not. Get out of the way."

Put up the steel cage!

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