BROOKLYN, Mich. — Nearly a week removed from a pair of on-track incidents Kyle Busch had with William Byron and Bubba Wallace, the trio had a chance to hash things out Friday at Michigan International Speedway.
All three drivers spent time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series hauler prior to Friday’s on-track activities at the 2-mile speedway. For Busch, he’s still struggling to figure out why it happened to be two former competitors who raced for his Kyle Busch Motorsports teams in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
“It’s kind of surprising that you get into it with two former drivers because you would kind of expect a little bit more or different than you would from some other competitors out there,” Busch said. “So, I guess I just didn’t quite get that.
“As far as conversations went today, there’s a better understanding between the both of them. So, move forward.”
With the Byron incident, Busch insisted there was unnecessary contact made by the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports car in Turn 1, which resulted in Busch spinning on Lap 2.
“He came down and chopped me and hit me in my left front, which just spun me out,” Busch said. “I think it was avoidable.”
Byron still holds a different view of what happened.
“I felt like I gave him enough room; he felt like I didn’t give him enough room,” Byron said. “Obviously, it’s just racing and stuff like that happens.”
What Busch didn’t take lightly was how Byron’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, encouraged Byron to retaliate during the race after Busch nudged Byron’s car through the grass as he entered the inner loop following the initial incident.
Busch said a crew member shouldn’t tell the driver how to handle those situations.
“I think spotters and crew chiefs don’t need to encourage their drivers to do (expletive); they need to do their job,” Busch said. “Focus on race strategy and focus on spotting. Then, when it comes down to the mental game and the mental aspect of it, you figure out how to do that off the track, behind closed doors.”
Byron was in favor of discussing the skirmish with Busch in a face-to-face conversation rather than hearing what he had to say from other avenues, and he viewed it as a learning experience in his sophomore Monster Energy Series season.
“It’s better to talk about things than just hear things through the media and think that that’s how you should go about it,” Byron said. “I like to talk about it, especially to understand where they’re coming from. Obviously, I’ve only been in the sport for two years at this level, so I’m trying to learn what’s right or code to go by.”
When it comes to Wallace, however, the second-year Cup Series driver is more willing to go against the grain when it comes to racing veteran drivers and standing up for what he believes in.
“What’s there to be afraid of?” Wallace said. “We’re out here to all race and go for the checkered flag and drivers who have been around the sport are obviously (set) in their ways. ‘You gotta do this, you gotta do that, you gotta do this’ to get their respect. I’m out there running my own race, running for my life, running for my career.”
While he and Busch agreed to disagree, Wallace noted they parted ways respectfully after clearing the air.
“Frustrations were high and whatnot, but we walked out of there and had a good conversation,” Wallace said. “We were kind of pissed off at each other. I would say something to piss him off and vice versa. But at the end of the day, we shook hands. Hell, he finished 11th. I’m not a threat to him. But at the same time, I wanna get my respect.”