Kyle Busch and Kansas Speedway don't get along. That was evident once again Saturday morning when Busch wrecked his Sprint Cup car during practice for Sunday's race. But now Busch has more to worry about than starting at the back of the field at a track he's crashed out at in the last two races.
As he and Brad Keselowski were battling for second place in the closing laps of Saturday's Nationwide Series race, Busch was the chaser. As he pulled up near Keselowski's car off turn four, Busch was just to Keselowski's inside. And then as the two drove into the tri-oval, the gap between the cars disappeared. Busch's right front made contact with Keselowski's left rear.
Keselowski went spinning. Busch carried on.
"He didn't want me to race him hard so he dumped me down the straightaway," Keselowski said. "I think that's pretty self-explanatory and I'm not going to stand it. He's got a lot more to lose than I do. Like I said, I guess that's the only good thing about not being in the Chase."
Yes, that's pretty much a warning shot. Kyle Busch not only has to worry about scoring more points than Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, but he's now got to make sure a Miller Lite No. 2 doesn't put him in the fence.
Keselowski, the defending Sprint Cup champion, missed out on the Chase playoffs this year. Busch is 18 points back of points leader Kenseth. And he just ticked off a fellow Cup driver who is running for little more than pride over the final seven races. Oh and that Cup driver is one that's previously called you an ass in a clip that's been played millions of times.
While Busch half-apologized for the incident with a "my bad" and said that his car didn't turn when he was that close to Keselowski, let's call it for what it looked like: a dump. Yes, both drivers were racing hard for second place and yes, Busch said that he felt he was crowded while they were racing together. But with eight laps remaining, there was no need to force the issue at that moment.
"The contact there that ultimately ended it, I just got real tight off of four. I'd been battling tight... underneath him and behind him and everything else and I thought I had a run and I tried to stay in the gas so I could get a run on him and get to his quarter and side draft him down the front straightaway and I got too tight. got inside his wake and got too close to him and spun him out."
The rivalry between Busch and Keselowski has simmered since the hind-end moment and it looked far from a boiling point when Keselowski declined to use the chrome horn when racing Busch for the win at Watkins Glen in August saying that "there's a level of respect and a code of honor that you have to have as a man.”
“He's a great driver and I have a lot of respect for him accordingly," Keselowski said then. "I don't really hold any personal grudges against him to make it hurt any more. Maybe that's not reciprocal, I don't know.”
After he climbed from his wrecked car Saturday, those words were a distant memory. Once he inspected the damage on his No. 22, Keselowski dashed to the infield, gesturing at Busch's crew and pointing to his butt. Yes, the rivalry was back. We were talking about glutes again, if only for a brief moment as Keselowski continued -- sometimes impeded by NASCAR officials -- his run to the infield care center.
While Keselowski said just two months ago that he didn't hold any grudges, it was apparent that following the race, the same couldn't be said for Busch. He harkened back to Watkins Glen 12 months prior to the 2013 race, when he and Keselowski made contact on an oil-slicked track. Contact that, well, looked like it could have been avoided had Busch not shut the door too late in front of Keselowski.
"Well Brad Keselowski dumped me at Watkins Glen and I perservered and let him and Jimmie battle it out and I had an opportunity to wreck him a few times in the Chase and I was the bigger man," Busch said about Keselowski's run to the title last year. "And if he wants to take it over to the other side of the garage area, whatever, but you know what, I've got more class than that."
It also continued after the TV cameras were off. From USA Today:
"I got wrecked by a dirty driver," Keselowski said. "There is no other way of putting it."
"Brad Keselowski knows what dirty drivers are because he's done it plenty of times," Busch shot back. "I have yet to wreck a person on purpose."
Asked if the incident would carry over into Cup Series, Keselowski said, "(Freak) yeah it will."
"That goes to show you the kind of person Brad Keselowski is and the class he doesn't have," Busch responded.
It's hard to find a boast of classiness ever appealing, but especially not when it's after what looked to be a very intentional crash. While Busch may want the revenge factor to stay in the Nationwide Series, the honor code, especially in these days of Cup drivers moonlighting in other series, there isn't a brick wall between garages.
Not only is he going to have to tame a track that's mystified him in the Cup Series, but he's going to have to also hope Keselowski doesn't go wild. Guess which one's more likely to happen?