Kyle Busch owns up to ‘mistake’ in closing laps at Darlington Raceway
On Wednesday night, the NASCAR Cup Series returned to Darlington Raceway. It’s the second race back for the sport since the series of postponements began.
Tempers were raised in Darlington, South Carolina.
The green flag dropped with 29 laps to go. Denny Hamlin and Matt DiBenedetto held the front row with slightly older tires. Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott both ran three into turn one as DiBenedetto dropped through the middle.
Kyle Busch cut to the inside of Hamlin for the lead. But, the momentum was on the top. Busch lost has as he tried to exit the corner on the bottom.
Meanwhile, Chase Elliott had a hell of a run on the outside lane. He filled the gap in a hurry and closed on the bumper of Hamlin. Busch was now stuck on the bottom.
Chase Elliott gave a push to Hamlin down the front stretch and was set to be in 2nd heading into turn one. Instead, he was sent backwards into turn one.
Kyle Busch attempted to tuck in behind Elliott at the flagstand as Elliott went by on his outside. Busch misjudged it.
Elliott was hooked in the left rear by Kyle Busch. He was sent toward the inside wall at a high rate of speed. After heavy contact with the wall, Elliott’s day was done.
The driver of the No. 9 climbed from the mangled car on his own power. Instead of heading to the ambulance, he waited for Kyle Busch to circle around under caution. When he did, Elliott showed him the middle finger.
No. 9 crew waits for Kyle Busch
The race would never see the green flag drop. Under the caution period, the rain returned.
NASCAR pulled the cars to the pit lane as they evaluated the weather situation. Meanwhile, the No. 9 team sat on the pit wall, right by where the Busch was parked and they evaluated the #18 car.
Shortly after, NASCAR called the race. Hamlin was declared the race winner and Kyle Busch took home 2nd. Meanwhile, the No. 9 was already off on the hook.
The No. 9 crew waited for Busch to climb from the car. Alan Gustafson, crew chief for Chase Elliott had previously worked with Kyle Busch. Gustafson elected to initiate the conversation.
The crew chief of the No. 9 and the driver of the No. 18 had a long discussion.
Kyle Busch on the incident with Chase Elliott
“Oh, there’s no question. I made a mistake and misjudged the gap,” Kyle Busch told FOX Sports after the race.
“We were racing there with the No. 11 and the No. 9 had a run. I knew he was there and I knew I needed to get in line as quick as I could.”
“I watched him and his momentum as he was going by me. Then, I looked up in the mirror to see where Harvick was to get in. And I just misjudged it.”
“I made a mistake, clipped the No. 9 there and spun him into the wall. I hate it for him and his guys.”
“I got too many friends over there on that team to do anything on purpose. And I’ve raced Chase since he was a kid and never had any issues with him, whatsoever.”
“It was just a bad mistake on my part. We’ll just have to deal with it later on.”
How’d the conversation go?
“They’re upset. They’re mad. I’m not just going to fix it and we’re gonna go have ice cream tomorrow.”
“Obviously, they’re going to dwell on it. The repercussions of it, I’m sure I’m going to have later on, down the road.”
Alan Gustafson on the crash with Kyle Busch
“No,” Gustafson, the No. 9 crew chief said when asked if the conversation with Kyle Busch calmed him down.
“Ultimately, he made a mistake. 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. I certainly feel like we were in position to win that race. Denny was in trouble on old tires and we were going to clear Kyle.”
So, 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 work their tails off on this NAPA Chevy. Ultimately, they deserve to win the race.”