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From the Marbles

Tony Stewart unhappy with Kurt Busch after late race contact

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

Unhappy with contact from Kurt Busch late in Saturday night's Toyota Owners 400, Tony Stewart and Busch rubbed doors down the backstretch on the cool-down lap and exchanged shouts over Busch's car after they emerged from their vehicles at their haulers.

But unlike Friday night, the disagreement on the cool-down lap didn't lead to any (low) blows.

Stewart restarted fifth after taking two tires on pit road while Busch restarted 10th on four fresh tires. On the penultimate lap, Busch made contact with Stewart's rear bumper, contact that sent Stewart up the racetrack and out of the groove.

"You cold just tell. Green-white-checker, everybody's going to put on tires, some guys were going to do two, some guys stayed out, and it's just a free-for-all," Busch said. "There's rubber buildup in the outside groove, there's cars sliding up with old tires, so I don't know what the 14's upset about. I got hit from behind, I got hit from every which way, so did he."

Stewart, who left the track without comment, had already worked his way through the field after spinning while on the inside of Jimmie Johnson on lap 328. But he hadn't broken into the top five until that tire strategy move. By his standards, the first eight races of the season have been disastrous with five finishes outside the top 20, so it was a prime opportunity for Stewart to steal a win from the drivers ahead of him with old tires.

Busch, who entered the race one spot behind Stewart in the standings, has also had a rough start to the season with four finishes outside the top 20. On Saturday, he had one of the race's best cars and was third when the caution flag flew with three laps to go. But after taking four tires, he restarted ninth.

Given the two drivers' personalities and circumstances, you could see potential for volatility, especially given that the bump from Busch sparked an all-too-familiar late race slide through the field for Stewart, who wound up 18th to Busch's ninth.

Perhaps that's what stemmed Stewart's frustration after the race when he drove up alongside Busch and doorslammed him to express his displeasure, almost running Busch up to the wall. Busch then returned the favor, almost preventing Stewart from entering pit road. In March, Stewart confronted Joey Logano on pit road after he felt Logano blocked him on a late-race restart.

Busch is now 20th in the standings while Stewart fell a spot to 22nd.

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