Kyle Busch may still have a chip, or maybe an M&M, on his shoulder when it comes to Joey Logano. Nearly a week after an on-track incident turned physical on pit road, Busch finally told his side of the story Friday night after NASCAR Cup qualifying at Phoenix.
It all started on the last lap of the Kobalt 400 last Sunday at Las Vegas. Battling for a top five finish on the final lap, Busch and Logano were racing side by side. Entering turn 3 Logano got into Busch sending him spinning onto pit road. Logano finished third, Busch 22nd. After the race, Busch threw a punch at Logano, which may or may not have landed on Logano. Logano was pulled away but Busch ended up on the ground, walking away moments later with a bloody forehead.
Saturday morning at Phoenix International Raceway, NASCAR brought the two drivers together in the NASCAR hauler. After the meeting, Busch would only say:
“Everything’s great. Looking forward to getting back to the race track and back in my race car.”
Later Logano, who said earlier this week that he had reached out to Busch in an attempt to mend fences, further explained his side.
“I told him that we obviously made contact on the back straightaway,” Logano said. “I had a not very good entry (into turn 3) and had to slow down the car a lot to stay on the bottom and tried to make up some of that speed at the bottom of the race track and then I got loose. Once you get loose once, then I was on his door. You get loose again, and at that point that was it. That is my mistake. I tried to stay on the bottom but my car didn’t stay there.
“There could be six or seven different reasons why that happened, but the fact of the matter is I tried to stay on the bottom, I made a mistake and got up into him. I hate that it happened. I would take it back in a heartbeat. He asked for data when we talked on the phone (during the week), and I was able to bring that with me and present that and try to explain what was going on inside my race car. We try to move on from there.”
“It’s an emotional sport,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer said after the meeting. “We still view that as two drivers racing hard for position. If that escalates beyond that to someone doing something intentional on the race track, we were very clear that we’ll react.
“But we’re moving on, and we want to see a great race here in Phoenix.”
Busch said nothing more about the incident, until post qualifying. After securing ninth, Busch told ESPN:
“I made a move down the backstretch that cut Joey off, and I had to… I wasn’t going to just roll out of the gas and fall in behind Brad and probably lose spots to more guys behind me,” Busch said. “So I made a bold move. I was two-thirds of my way past Logano and figured I could wedge my way through there a little bit and I did. And it was instantaneous retaliation.
“That’s what I thought, and that’s kind of what I still think. The fact of the matter is it’s time to move on and press forward.”
Logano won the pole for Sunday’s race. In his post qualifying press conference, he seemed ready to move on.
“I woke up this morning thinking about our race car and how we can end up sitting here at the end of the day,” Logano said. “That is the goal. In between do I have to think about other things? Yeah, obviously we had that meeting today and there were a lot of distractions that we don’t typically have but it is a matter of managing those distractions and getting your head back in the right spot for when it is game time. I was able to use everything the right way, use our tools and our people around me to help me get my mind back where it needs to be and be able to focus and lay down a good lap.”