Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t happy about being wrecked out at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night, but said he didn’t think Kyle Busch’s contact was intentional.
And Busch, who had rallied from two laps down to battle Truex for second, apologized after the race, saying he misjudged his position coming off the corner.
Truex, who slammed his equipment down and kicked his car after he got out, initially told NBC Sports, “Sometimes you’re the nice guy and you get knocked out of the way. We’ll just have to race him harder next time.”
But he acknowledged the contact boiled down to Bristol racing.
“I’ve seen the replay real quick, but I didn’t really pay much attention to it,” said Truex. “It’s hard racing at Bristol. The corner exit’s really slick where the VHT wore out; there [are] some real slick patches. I’m sure he hit one of them. Probably didn’t obviously do it on purpose, but it’s hard Bristol racing.
“Probably could’ve shown a little bit more patience, he was a lot faster than me at that point in time. He just caught me and probably another lap or so he would’ve went right by.
“Half his fault, half my fault for following the 14 [Clint Bowyer] so long. I should’ve knocked his butt out of the way because he held me up for 15, 20 laps and burnt my front tires off screwing with him. So, just played too nice and got the crappy end of the stick.”
Truex said he and Busch, who are Toyota teammates and alliance partners at Joe Gibbs Racing, race well together. Incidents between the two are few, and Truex took the blame last year for wrecking the two of them at Indianapolis while racing for the lead.
“We had this one incident, and obviously, it was totally his fault, but I guarantee you he didn’t do it on purpose,” said Truex. “Just the way it goes sometimes, I guess.”
The contact was just one part of a long night for Busch. He started third and spun two laps into the race off Turn 4, which left him sideways across the track as multiple cars piled up. Falling two laps down, Busch eventually rallied and made it back into the top 10 until a round of pit stops where the team needed to take extra time to ensure the car was full of fuel.
Busch fell to 14th and then again drove back into the top 10. The contact with Truex came as they ran second and third. A flat tire and spin eventually did Busch in.
“Totally misjudged that one coming off the corner,” said Busch. “Knowing there was plenty of laps left I wasn’t even in a hurry, and I just misjudged by four, six inches whatever it was, and I clipped him there and sent him for a ride. He knows that wasn’t intentional at all.
“We’re worked really, really, really, really good together these last two, three years so that shouldn’t ruin anything between us.”
Saying Truex and his crew chief Cole Pearn are “really cool,” Busch doesn’t believe he’ll have to do any damage control — although he did say he might send a cake to the Furniture Row Racing shop in Colorado for the team members having to work extra time because of the wrecked car.
Busch came into the weekend looking for his third straight Bristol win in the Cup Series. He crashed out of Friday night’s Xfinity Series race in his final start of the season in the series. Success this weekend wasn’t meant to be, he said.
As for Truex, he still has not won a short-track race in his career, and he is now 0-26 at Bristol with just three top-10 finishes.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Truex. “Every time we come here something like that happens. We run really good, and something like that happens — flat tire, loose wheel, get crashed, you name it. We’re sitting in the position to have a shot at winning here again, and it sucks to keep coming here and working so hard, trying so hard, and my guys put so much into it, and stuff like that happens. It’s really frustrating.”