Kyle Busch clashes with crew chief at Bristol
August 23, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
RELATED: Full race results | Updated series standings
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Team owner Joe Gibbs said it was "frustration."
Crew chief Dave Rogers said it was "a miscommunication."
Driver Kyle Busch? He wasn't talking, having departed after his car was damaged beyond repair, the result of which left the Joe Gibbs Racing owner with a 36th-place finish in Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
It was the fourth consecutive finish of 36th or worse for Busch, who had finished second in three of four NASCAR Sprint Cup races before this latest slide.
Sixth in points after this year's Indianapolis stop, Busch has now fallen 11 positions to 17th.
Damage from an incident involving his No. 18 Toyota was too severe for repairs, leaving Busch to exit his car with less than 100 laps remaining in the race. Radio conversations between Busch and Rogers appeared to get heated before Busch's departure.
"I still don't know what happened," Rogers said of the race-ending incident. "I think we got into the fence and I could hear the spotter say the tires were up, I heard Kyle say something about right-front suspension (but) I couldn't put it together.
"I got frustrated with Kyle because I wasn't sure what he was saying; he got frustrated with me because I wasn't fixing the race car. It's Bristol, it's loud, and a lot of things are going on."
Busch, who had qualified fourth in the 43-car field, drove into the lead early. But a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 63 dropped him from first to the tail end of the lead-lap cars.
Collected in a five-car accident at Lap 125, Busch was unable to crack the top 10 for the remainder of the race.
That incident began when Brian Vickers and Kyle Larson made contact in front of Busch. As he slowed to avoid contact, Clint Bowyer got into the back of Busch's car, damaging the left rear.
"We were really fast tonight, had a top-four qualifying effort, then we drove up into the lead, thought we were going to have a shot to win it and then we got caught up in someone else's mess early on so everyone's frustrated," Rogers said. "It's been a long month. Emotions just overflowed like they always do at Bristol. It's really no big deal."
Rogers said he thought the final incident cut a tire, but his driver said the suspension on the car was broken.
"He said, 'No, you didn't fix the problem. The suspension is broke,' " Rogers said.
"I said, 'Well, if the suspension is broke then drive it to the truck' … there's nothing you can do about it 50 laps to go in the race.
"But he's right. The suspension's broke. That car was not salvageable. We couldn't get it back on the track no matter what we wanted to do. But it was just a miscommunication what we needed to work on."
Gibbs said he spoke to both Busch and Rogers after the race.
"That's just pro sports," Gibbs said. "Every now and then you get frustrated.
"They had three weeks … they were second, second, second. I think the night was totally frustrating. *(Kyle) had a great car and it was a series of circumstances. Something like that happens in pro sports you can get frustrated."
Rogers said the heated conversations wouldn't impact his working relationship with his driver.
"If Kyle Busch wasn't passionate, I probably wouldn't work for him," he said. "And if I wasn't passionate, Kyle Busch probably wouldn't want me as his crew chief. You've got two passionate people that want to win more than anything. And sometimes that passion gets the best of you. Tonight's that night. Kyle and I are fine. He's still my buddy, I love him to death and I'm very confident he'd tell you the same about me.
"We both got frustrated tonight, but it's such a small deal. It really doesn't even factor into the Chase. We have some really good cars sitting on jack stands getting ready to go. All the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing are busting their butts and they've been building better and better cars. Lately, we've had speed in our cars and we're racing our worst stuff. We're saving our good stuff for the Chase."
NASCAR.com's Alan Cavanna contributed to this report.