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Nick Bromberg

Is Kurt Busch going to be Jimmie Johnson's long-awaited rival?

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

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Kurt Busch was in no mood to accept an apology from Jimmie Johnson after a bump from the reigning four-time champion sent Busch crashing into the wall and then into oncoming traffic in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.

"Got wrecked on the straightaway," a visibly peeved Busch told ESPN, "Jimmie Johnson drove straight through us."

If Busch is keeping a tally — and you know he probably is — that's the third time this season that Johnson's spoiled a race for him.

Bump-drafting was the way to make up some serious time on Pocono's long straights Sunday, and Johnson miss-timed his bump of Busch as the two tried to get past Clint Bowyer. Johnson immediately apologized over his radio, but the events that he just set off might have cemented the elder Busch as Johnson's main rival.

The relationship between the two can be characterized as cool at best over the course of the season, with Busch taking many opportunities to backhand Johnson and his bunch. At Bristol — before Johnson started ruining races for Busch — Busch said that he'd rather lose to anyone else in the field than Johnson.

Let's face it, Jeff Gordon and Johnson will never truly be rivals because of the relationship that they have at Hendrick Motorsports. Kyle Busch would be a good Luke Skywalker to Johnson's Vader (kidding, kidding, how many heart attacks did that cause?), but he and Johnson haven't shared enough of the same racing real estate lately, and Carl Edwards is out until he can get back to victory lane in the Cup Series.

That leaves us with Kurt Busch, and at the moment that's perfect. Because he's not from the Hendrick stable and drives for a team that receives no factory funding, it's somewhat difficult to take Busch seriously as a contender to overtake Johnson. But Busch is solidly in the Chase and is capable of recapturing the form that he showed earlier in the season. Busch shows no signs of backing down and as long as he and Johnson keep finding themselves next to each other on the racetrack, the sparks could (literally) continue to fly.

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