DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Several additional cycles around Daytona International Speedway couldn’t thaw Kyle Busch’s frosty reaction to his Lap 35 collision with Jimmie Johnson in Thursday’s first Gander RV Duel.
“He ran into me, dude. Flat out. Watch the television. What else do you want?” Busch said on pit road after finishing 18th of 21 cars. “… I don’t know why. You gotta open your eyeballs and see where the (expletive) you’re going, that’s about all I can say.”
“The (expletive)’s destroyed. Vibrated the whole rest of the race and it was a turd. I couldn’t even keep up with the slow cars.”
Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet tapped the left rear tire of Busch’s No. 18 just past the halfway point of the 60-lap event, sending the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota spinning. Busch stopped just short of the grass and didn’t make additional contact with other cars.
Johnson issued an apology on his radio immediately to Busch, who offered his own response.
“I don’t want to (expletive) hear it,” Busch radioed to his team. “Use his damn eyeballs. It’s twice he’s done the same thing in two (expletive) races.”
Busch’s comments were directed at Johnson’s wreck with then-leader Paul Menard in Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona, which triggered a multi-car melee. Johnson won the event, while Menard was scored 13th of 20 cars and sustained heavy, race-ending damage
The No. 21 driver’s post-wreck comments indicated that he wasn’t happy with Johnson.
“Jimmie pulled down, I moved down a little bit, and the next thing I knew I’m getting turned in the left rear,” Menard said after the wreck. “Jimmie does that a lot at these tracks. It’s unfortunate.”
Menard and Johnson said at Daytona 500 Media Day that they talked and had moved on from Sunday’s incident. While Johnson and Busch didn’t converse on pit road right away Thursday, Johnson — who finished eighth in Duel 1 — said that he’ll talk to Busch “as soon as (he) can.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver expressed additional remorse for the incident with Busch after the race. He also maintained that while the Clash collision was a “racing incident,” Thursday’s incident with Busch was a mistake on his part.
“I just got it wrong. Clearly,” he said. “We got three-wide and I just kind of misjudged that situation in being three-wide and trying to tuck in behind Kyle. Unfortunately, just turned him around. Apologies to he and his team and I know that is not what they wanted with their 500 car, but I just got it wrong there …”
“I hate when that stuff happens. There’s not much else I can do unfortunately, but I’m just really happy they didn’t get in the fence and it doesn’t appear that they have to go to a backup car.”
The No. 18 camp will aim to not go to a backup car for Sunday’s Daytona 500, as the team will look to repair the damages, Busch said.
“It doesn’t need to be a backup,” he said. “We’ve just got to figure out if putting the hood on it is going to pick the pace back up or not.”