Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick continue to disagree over their clash last week in the closing laps of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington, which led to an altercation between the pair.
Following their dust-up last Saturday in the pits after the conclusion of the race, both drivers met with NASCAR officials privately to give their account of what had happened. On Tuesday $25,000 fines and four-week probation periods were issued for both, before they met with officials again on Thursday ahead of events at Dover.
Speaking on Friday, Busch claimed initial contact between him and Harvick following the penultimate restart was not intentional but helped by a flat tire. He said following their clash he was forced to pit for new left-side tires as both were running flat.
"To me, I did have a left rear tire flat and I wasn't sure that if I turned too hard to the right to stay off of him or to get away from him that the car would actually spin out the wrong way," said Busch. "Believe that for what it's worth. I believe there's some in-car cameras you can see and I did have to come to pit road during that caution period to change left side tires because they were flat.
He added: "The only thing I will say I guess is that I'm sorry I came off Turn 2 on the flat trying to give Kevin room and maybe I slid a little too far and I got into him first. Maybe that's what initiated everything. I apologize about that. It wasn't my intention to get into him and then have everything go down the way it went down.
"I was just trying to race the final five laps as hard as I could, as clean as I could to get the best finish we could. We shouldn't have been back in that situation anyway, but we did have a loose wheel and problems on pit road that we had to rebound from and come back from."
Harvick did not believe his rival's explanation and said Busch turning him around by clipping his right rear quarter panel was what really led to him taking their feud into the post-race. The Richard Childress racer believes partly their clash was a continuation of an exchange they had in last year's season finale, which ended with Busch getting spun by Harvick.
"It's kind of one lie after the other and you see everything that happened after the race and for me the way that I was brought up and taught to race, when you hook somebody in the right-rear quarter panel that's the equivalent of throwing your gloves off in hockey," said Harvick. "That's the point where everybody has reached the boiling point and basically the only answer I get out of Kyle is I'm a racecar driver, not a fighter – but if you drive like that you're going to have to learn how to take care of yourself."
"I felt that Kyle got into my door. I ran him down on the back straightaway. I got into him in [Turn] 3 and we got three-wide. Yesterday Kyle's explanation was he had a flat tire and hooked me on the straightaway.
"The wrecking doesn't bother me but the only thing that bothers me is the right-rear quarter panel because in my mind I know what that means. I don't mind getting wrecked back. If you think it's a payback for Homestead that's fine. Those parts don't bother me, I understand how it all works but when you throw [the gloves] off it's time to handle it."
When asked about getting along with Busch, Harvick said such a scenario "won't ever happen," while Busch described his rival as being "two-faced."
"As far as us getting along, I'm not sure that we ever really did," Busch said. "I think he [Harvick] tried and that's why at Homestead I kind of talked about the two faces of Kevin Harvick. I still believe that's out there.
"He'll talk to you to your face like you're best friends, but then behind closed doors or him at home or whatever, he has the utmost disrespectful thoughts or whatever else."
Busch won Friday's Truck Series race at Dover, where Harvick finished fifth after leading early on. They battled at the front a couple of times, Harvick saying they raced each other "clean" after the event.