BRISTOL — Kyle Busch finally broke a two-week silence to the media Friday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway, but said little about a racing incident with Brad Keselowski two weeks ago.
Before final practice for the IRWIN Tools Night Race, reporters asked Busch what bothered him more — Keselowski bumping him out of the lead on the final lap at Watkins Glen or NASCAR not throwing a caution for oil.
“All of the above,” was Busch’s simple reply.
Asked if he had talked to Keselowski since the race and Busch’s answer was even shorter.
“No,” Busch said.
These days, Busch has bigger fish to fry than to focus on the feud.
Currently the first driver out of the Chase for the Cup playoffs, Busch has one win this season and ranks 13th in the driver standings. He’s 11 points behind Ryan Newman for the final wild-card spot, with Jeff Gordon 19 points behind him.
History, though, is on Busch’s side. The next three Sprint Cup races are at his strongest tracks — Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond — where he has a combined 10 victories.
“I would certainly like to think that we can make the Chase, and we have the opportunity to do so, but that’s all we can do,” said the 27-year-old Las Vegas driver. “I can’t sit here and tell you how well or how great we deserve to be in the Chase or anything else. It’s either going to come or it’s not.”
Busch, a 24-time winner on the Sprint Cup tour, said the problem isn’t so much about performance as mechanical failures like back-to-back engine failures earlier this summer at Dover and Pocono.
The driver took much of the blame for a missed set-up last Sunday at Michigan, where Busch pedaled to a 13th-place finish.
“We’ve been really fast — we’ve had fast race cars, which I’ve been excited about,” he said. “Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys have done a really nice job of putting together some good stuff. It’s just stupid things keep happening.
“We ran a right-rear shock last week at Michigan that we probably shouldn’t have — I put it on in the first practice and knew it was too loose in. In the race, on the restarts I just would get killed because I couldn’t drive it into the corner until everybody would get away from me. Then I could run my own line.”
It’s doubtful Busch will make the same kind of mistake at Bristol. He’s tied with Jeff Gordon and his brother, Kurt, for the most wins among active drivers at the track, with five.
Busch has 12 Bristol wins in all three NASCAR national touring series, only one win behind the track’s all-time winner, Darrell Waltrip.
However, he wasn’t happy about the recent changes to the race track where the top racing groove was grinded down. Busch called the changes “terrible,” now putting more of an emphasis on track postion.
Still, he said the characteristics of running well at Bristol remains the same.
“You have to have a really good feel here at Bristol,” he said. “You have to be on top of your game anywhere, but you’ve really got to have a good feel of the entry and center and exit and just making sure you can get your car as free as you can to withstand the back of the car sliding around a little bit. Yet, you still have to have good forward bite off the corners and you’ve got to be able to drive it hard and make up lap time when you lack.”