He’s usually unabashed, unapologetic, and harsh. Kyle Busch is known as a fierce competitor who makes no excuses, or many friends on the track. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver and defending NASACR Sprint Cup champion has been known for few words, and even in the past, none at all.
He was a much different driver Sunday night after the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Busch came into Phoenix barely hanging onto a Chase spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead. As Sunday’s race wore on however, Busch struggled and for much of the 312 laps was outside the cutoff for the Chase. In the closing laps however, it all changed.
Fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth had taken the lead and was in control. In the final 10 laps, with Kenseth in control, Kyle Busch was in a tie with Joey Logano for the final Chase spot. Logano though had the edge in a tiebreaker. With two laps to go, Michael McDowell hit the wall exiting turn 2 after losing a tire and caution flew setting up a green-white checkered flag finish.
On the restart Kenseth led from the outside with Alex Bowman, who led the most laps of the day, 194, on the inside. Bowman spun his tires; Busch just behind him pushed Bowman into the turn. Kenseth, perhaps not aware that Bowman was beneath, came down and made contact with Bowman. Kenseth spun into the turn 1 wall and crashed, bringing out the races ninth and final caution and ending his hopes for the win and a shot at the 2016 Sprint Cup title. Kenseth would finish 21st. Busch would finish second, and thanks to Logano’s win, and Kenseth’s crash, was the final driver to be locked into the Championship 4.
After it was over, Busch wasn’t too happy. In fact, he was uncharacteristically contrite.
“Well, right now it feels pretty shitty, but tomorrow it might feel a lot better,” Busch said. “I’m not sure, depends on what Matt’s interpretation is and whether or not he can forgive. You know, I just feel really bad about what happened there on that last restart. It just wasn’t what I anticipated having happen, and I just feel bad. “
“The 20 (Kenseth)should have been the Gibbs car to go through, and I was just trying to make a position there on the 88 (Bowman), felt like I was to his inside and had the position. Otherwise if he turned down on a guy and chop him you’re going to get wrecked, and he did, and it translated into the 20 crashing. That’s not how at all I foresaw that going. I was hoping I could get the 88 underneath him and force him up and have him kind of block the 22 (Logano) and check up the outside row and then I could have a position between me and the 22 and get myself and the 20 in.”
“Math just didn’t quite work out that way today,” he added.
Kenseth still wasn’t sure how it had all gone wrong in the final laps.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Kenseth said. “I just got through the gears and it was the last restart of the day and I knew they had more than a car length behind me so I just got going and tried to get going early. The spotter said I was clear and I came to the bottom in turn one because I certainly wanted to be at the bottom and be in front of him going into turn two and then I was in the wall. I don’t really know any more than that.”
Kenseth’s spotter, Chris Osborne took blame for the accident on social media after the race. Kenseth however, seemed to defer the blame away from Osborne.
Apologies to EVERY @mattkenseth fan out there for ending our chase hopes today! Obviously this 1’s on me!!
— Chris Osborne (@crazy_spotter) November 13, 2016
“I don’t know, the 88 (Alex Bowman) was laying way, way back for that restart, more than a car would so I got going early on purpose and I looked at him at the start-finish line,” Kenseth said. “I thought we were doing okay and I looked back and it looked like he had a little run on me, maybe not and shortly thereafter Chris (Osborne, spotter) cleared me so with the glare I started looking to the corner to approach the corner and I got turned out of the way. He hollered ‘inside’ at the same time I got turned towards the fence so I really don’t know what happened. I was just going off the information I had to try to get the best corner I could and lead more laps.”
Sunday night, Busch said he would certainly talk to Kenseth as soon as he can.
“No doubt,” Busch said. “I know Matt (Kenseth) is going to look at the replays and we’ll look at the replays and kind of see and define what happened but ultimately my contact is what sent the car (Alex Bowman) into the 20 (Matt Kenseth) and I don’t know what his interpretation was or if he said anything. We’ll talk.”