Kyle Busch gives his take on the late-race contact with Kevin Harvick that robbed him what could have been his sixth win of the 2018 season.
Busch led 36 laps in a race were he constantly found himself mired at the backend of the top-ten, but a strong pit stop allowed him to control the field for the final restart with 39 laps to go.
Busch initially got away, but as the laps ticked away, Kevin Harvick closed in and after several laps on the back bumper of the No. 18 machine, he gave Busch a shot, sending him up out of the groove with six laps remaining.
Harvick then cruised to the checkered flag while Busch was forced to settle for second.
“You know, it’s racing,” said Busch after the race. “We had a really, really poor performance today. Our Interstate Batteries Camry just wasn’t there – it wasn’t there all weekend. We kept fighting the same things all weekend long and we never make any gains on it all through practice and we kind of struggled with it through the race and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) made some really, really good calls – some really good adjustments to just try to keep improving on it. My pit crew was flawless. They gained us all those spots on pit road to get us out front to get us in that position – to have a shot to go after the win.
“We controlled the restart and drove away by a little bit, but we weren’t the best car on the long run. All them SHR (Stewart-Haas Racing) cars were really, really good today. They were all fast, so it was going to be hard to hold them off and I was just kind of backing up and, you know, three, four, five corners in a row and with a faster car, I’m not sure he (Harvick) had to do it, but he did. It’s fine.
“How you race is how you get raced, so it’s fine.”
“I was in the way”
This is far from the first time the two champion drivers have clashed on-track, but to Harvick, he saw it as a necessary move and even stated that he had no intentions to wreck him. When asked if this will change the way he races Harvick in the future, Busch replied, “Well, he did that because of Chicago. I think that, you know, he had a fair game. Everybody has fair game on Kyle Busch – that’s for sure when it comes to the fan base, so, you know, that’s fine.
“That’s how they want to race, that’s how I’ll race back, but, you know, it was just a bump. I mean, it wasn’t a big deal. He didn’t wreck me or anything like that, so he did it early enough, but he did it way harder and pushed me out of the groove three lanes and it just takes you so long to recover here that it was just no possible way I could get back to him, so – and I was slower anyways.
“I was in the way, so no harm, no foul,” he admitted.
Although he felt it was justified, Busch also added that he was surprised Harvick didn’t even attempt to make a clean fast before resorting to the bump ‘n run.
“When you’re slower, I guess you kind of expect it, but you also think that a guy’s going to race you fair and try to pass you clean first. I don’t think he (Kevin Harvick) ever tried to pass me clean once he got there. He just kept hitting me in the rear bumper each and every time. It was getting increasingly harder.”
Busch leaves New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the points leader, but Harvick has now eclipsed him in playoff bonus points, which will come into play at the conclusion of the regular season.
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