Kyle Busch has hit back at David Reutimann after a clash between the two at Kansas ended up being costly for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The current Nationwide Series champion slipped from third to seventh in the championship playoff series last weekend at Kansas Speedway after an incident on lap 50 of the third Chase race, in which he made contact with Reutimann, caused the Michael Waltrip Racing driver to retaliate nearly 100 laps later, doing enough damage to the No. 18 Toyota to put it out of contention for a good finish.
Speaking at Fontana on Friday, Busch insisted that Reutimann, who won at Chicago earlier this year but did not make the Chase, raced him excessively hard and without any consideration for him being a championship contender. He said there was no point in settling things between the two, but admitted that he, not Reutimann, was at fault for their first contact.
"I race guys how they race me and I've always got raced really, really hard against [by] David Reutimann and I've got no room, no slack, no nothing," said Busch. "I had the opportunity to pass him at lap 30 in the race and he raced me so hard it lost me two spots and I just backed off. I said, 'You know what, not the time in the race to do this, no big deal, I'll get him back later.'
"The next time I got back to him was lap 50 and I didn't cut him any slack. I got into him, which was my fault not meaning to. But why would I apologize to a guy who races me like an ***hole every week? No point."
Busch has said following the clash that NASCAR should act to prevent such actions against a title contender happening. However, one of the series' policies for this year has been letting drivers police themselves, even if sometimes intentional contact is involved.
A much more dangerous payback incident than Busch's with Reutimann took place earlier this season at Atlanta between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, but no penalties were issued, a probation for the Roush Fenway racer being the only action by NASCAR. A second clash between the two in a Nationwide Series event at Gateway led to a points penalty, a fine and a second probation for Edwards, while the Penske racer was also placed under observation.
"I think in the instance in which everybody knew payback was coming, I think that's kind of dumb to let it happen," said Busch. "Before he [Reutimann] ran into me off Turn 2, he brake-checked me 30-miles per hour getting into Turn 1 and so I had an idea of what was coming, but thought that this would be really dumb if this did happen. It did, so it just makes us look like idiots."
The 25-year-old believes his poor finish at Kansas has placed him in catch-up mode for coming races, as he now trails Chase leader Jimmie Johnson by 80 points after three of the Chase's 10 events.
"We've got way too much catching up to do versus where we could have been," Busch said. "If I gave myself a fifth-place finish, which we could have either been better than that or maybe a couple spots worse than that, we'd be – I think – second or third in points right now, 20 points out of the lead.
"I feel like that's legitimately where we could be and instead of trying to come from behind, which is where we are, we could just keep running our own deal and doing what we need to do, finishing fifth, finishing fourth, finishing sixth, but right now we have to step it up and we have to win or finish second or third. We've got a lot more to pick up on."