Kyle Busch tried to apologize for sliding into Carl Edwards and causing a multicar wreck Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.
He might have to wait a few weeks to see if his apology has been accepted.
Edwards won the pole at Phoenix, led 21 laps early and thought he had the car to beat. Instead, he wound up in the garage and finished 28th after Busch slammed into the side of him on lap 59.
“I thought at first he was just frustrated and he turned left to get back in line and he didn’t know I was there, but I watched the tape and I think he really did get loose,” Edwards said. “He hit me hard and I was left with nothing.”
Busch apologized for the incident on his team radio and when Edwards returned to the track after the accident, Busch asked his spotter if he had talked to Edwards’ spotter. He was assured that everything was fine between the two NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers.
Still, Edwards did not make it easy for Busch on the track.
“He was mad, for sure, and he was frustrated, definitely,” Busch said. “You can see that entirely out there the whole rest of the race. Anytime I got within five car lengths of his rear bumper, he would start checking up early, getting into the corners and slowing down and getting more space between me and the other guys.
“Finally after about 20 laps of that, he let me go. It was weird. He just, he was playing. It didn’t cost me anything at the end of the day, so it didn’t hurt anything on our side.”
The two drivers, who have had a history of run-ins and confrontation, engaged in a spirited battle the day before in the Nationwide Series race and Edwards opted not to bump or spin Busch for the win.
“If you would have asked him the right question, he would say he owes me one,” Busch said after the Nationwide race. “I guess I still owe him one. I thought we’d be over that by now.
“You never know with him, and he can surprise you sometimes, but with both of us having a really good day like that, he’ll save it. It’s like an elephant, we all never forget.”
Among the incidents they apparently haven’t forgotten is the August 2008 Sprint Cup race at Bristol when they both used the bump-and-run to take the lead. Edwards won the race and an angry Busch bumped him on the cool-down lap. Edwards then retaliated by spinning Busch.
Then there was the Nationwide race last November at Texas when Busch declared that Edwards jumped the final restart. Edwards won the race and Busch was livid afterward, saying that Edwards got away with a blatant rule violation.
Edwards has a history of retaliation. He intentionally spun Brad Keselowski twice last year, causing frightening crashes in both incidents.
Though Busch apologized and took the blame for the incident Sunday, that doesn’t always make a difference. Drivers don’t expect other drivers to make reckless mistakes, particularly top drivers.
“This is a new year,” Edwards said after their battle in Saturday’s Nationwide race. “You’ve got to do the best you can to go out and race everyone all the time with the most respect you can. It’s frustrating to lose them, but it’s better to lose them that way than it is to win by running into somebody.”
Busch didn’t sound convinced Sunday that their feud is over.
“From what happened with us [Saturday] and how we raced each other, I thought that was great,” Busch said. “And I made a mistake today. I’ve admitted that again and again.
“Hopefully we can get past this and go on.”