Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Donnie Allison has never been one to mince words, and his opinion of the final-lap battle between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson at Chicagoland last Sunday was no exception.
“Best race I’ve seen in five years,” Allison declared during casual conversation with reporters on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. “That’s what they’re supposed to do.”
Larson parried with an aggressive charge through Turns 1 and 2, knocking Busch’s Toyota into the outside wall at the exit of Turn 2. After Larson edged ahead, Busch buried his No. 18 Camry into Turn 3 and knocked Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet sideways.
Busch’s momentum carried him into the outside wall, but he bounced off, righted his car and sped to the finish line to win the race.
How hard did Busch drive into the final pair of corners to get back to Larson’s bumper?
“I don’t recall,” Busch quipped on Thursday evening, during Toyota’s announcement of the introduction of the new Supra into NASCAR Xfinity Series competition next year. “It was pretty far… I wrecked three times—I wrecked in (Turn) 2, I wrecked in 3 and I wrecked in 1 after the checkered.”
Advised of Allison’s comments, Busch was appreciative.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “All the racers out there, all the people that know racing appreciated what that race was. A lot of other folks, casual fans that kind of watch the sport, didn’t appreciate it for what it was, because they said it was just one guy ramming another out of the way.
“Well, they take that little snidbit of (Turns) 3 and 4 and don’t even look at 1 and 2, and it’s like, they don’t see the eye-for-an-eye-type of thing. You’ve got to know what you’re watching to appreciate it sometimes.”
The eye-for-an-eye understanding explains why there was no bad blood between the drivers after the race.
“The reason why Larson and I get along, and the reason why Larson and I can have a relationship and have respect for one another is because, at Bristol, I bumped him with five (laps) to go, and I gave him a chance to come back and get me back,” Busch said. “He didn’t get there. At Chicago, he bumped me and gave me an opportunity to come back for him, right?”
But Busch, like Allison, didn’t mince words when it came to his principal rival in the Cup series, Brad Keselowski.
“Brad and I can’t absolutely stand each other, or hate each other, because every time he runs into me, he (freakin’) wrecks me, and I’m out,” Busch said. “Like Watkins Glen that time (2012), there was not a chance for rebuttal.
“The reason why that was a great race to the end between him and (Marcos) Ambrose was because they battled it out. But every time, he just runs over me and wrecks me, so there’s never a chance for that rebuttal. There’s never that camaraderie with racing. It’s just wrecking.”
In the eight times Busch and Larson have finished 1-2 in a NASCAR race, Busch has been the winner all eight times. It might be relevant to consider what happens to the camaraderie when Larson starts to win his fair share.