Kyle Busch concedes his error triggered the collision with Chase Elliott to wreck his rival's race as they battled for second place in the closing laps of Wednesday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway.
NASCAR's second race since its return to action from the coronavirus postponements - the first Wednesday NASCAR race since Richard Petty's 200th victory at Daytona on 4th July 1982 - saw a flashpoint between Busch and Elliott on a restart with fewer than 30 laps to go.
With Busch charging on fresh tyres to challenge Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Denny Hamlin for the lead on lap 199, Hamlin was able to briefly hold him back, allowing Elliott to get a run to the outside of Busch.
But on lap 201 as Elliott was about to move in front the reigning NASCAR champion switched focus but calamity struck as Elliott was clipped into a spin and sent into the inside wall. He then offered Busch the one-finger salute as the field paced by under caution.
The race would ultimately end there on lap 208 as rain showers quickly moved in to soak the track, with Hamlin winning from Busch.
Replays show Busch turn right into Elliott's left rear, which Busch later explained that he was trying to force his way back to the outside lane before he was pushed further back in the running order.
"There's no question, I know I made a mistake. I just misjudged the gap," Busch told Fox Sports 1, who later tweeted an apology to Elliott.
"When we were racing there with the #11 [Hamlin] and the #9 [Elliott] had a run on him, I knew he was there and I knew I needed to get into line as quick as I could and in doing so, you know I watched him and his momentum as he was going by me and then I tried to look up at the mirror and see where Kevin Harvick was and I just misjudged it.
"I made a mistake and clipped the #9 there and spun him into the wall. I've got too many friends over there on that team to do anything like that on purpose. I've raced Chase since he was a kid and never had any issues with him whatsoever, so it was just a bad mistake on my part and we'll just have to deal with it later on.
"They're upset, they're mad. I'm not just going to fix it and we're going to go have ice cream tomorrow. Obviously they're going to have to dwell on it and the repercussions of it I'm sure I'm going to have later on down the road."
During the red flag for rain, several members of Elliott's pit crew appeared near the pit wall across from Busch's parked car, sitting there before being moved back behind the wall by security.
After emerging from the car, Busch spoke with Elliott's crew chief Alan Gustafson. The two have a history as Gustafson spent time as Busch's crew chief from 2005 to 2007.
Gustafson gave his side of the story to Fox Sport, explaining: "Ultimately, he made a mistake and I get it. I don't think he intentionally wrecked us but you just get tired of coming out on the wrong end of those deals too often.
"I certainly feel like we were in position to win that race and [Hamlin] was in trouble on old tyres and we were going to clear Kyle obviously.
"You get tired of getting run over like that. His explanation I'm sure is accurate, but it doesn't change that all these guys worked their tails off and ultimately they deserved to win the race."
Busch kept hold of second place despite the clash with Elliott relegated to 38th following his crash.
Get unlimited access to the world’s best motorsport journalism with Autosport Plus