Keeping Pace

Drivers look ahead-Busch says there's no beef with Johnson

Kurt Busch, left, and Jimmie Johnson are not so buddy-buddy anymore after Saturday’s brush up.  (File Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Kurt Busch, left, and Jimmie Johnson are not so buddy-buddy anymore after Saturday’s brush up. (File Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Kurt Busch said he hadn’t had a chance before Friday to respond to a text message from Johnson offering to talk after a late-race clash between the two NASCAR stars sent Busch to a 17th-place finish at Chicago and left him fuming.

Will Graves/Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Kurt Busch has an excuse for why it took so long for him and Jimmie Johnson to patch things up after a dustup at Chicago two weeks ago: bad cell service.

Busch said he hadn’t had a chance before Friday to respond to a text message from Johnson offering to talk after a late-race clash between the two NASCAR stars sent Busch to a 17th-place finish at Chicago and left him fuming.

The two finally chatted before practice for Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Busch said the two would’ve talked sooner but blamed the lack of communication on a busy schedule.

“I did get a text message and again that was the night of (the race) and I was at the Chicago Cubs game the next day, tire testing, (and we) went to the Outer Banks and didn’t have any cell phone service so I don’t know how much I really need to explain,” Busch said.

Johnson was leading in the late stages before being passed by Denny Hamlin and suddenly finding himself racing three-wide with Busch and Jeff Gordon.

Gordon appeared to get under Johnson, and the three-time defending Cup champion’s No. 48 Chevrolet got loose and made contact with Busch.

Angry at the contact, Busch appeared to deliberately turn into Johnson. Their cars connected and while Johnson was able to salvage eighth place behind winner Mark Martin, Busch faded to the middle of the pack.

Afterward Busch said he was losing faith in Johnson’s “ability to be a three-time champion on the track.”

Looking back, Busch admitted he may have overreacted.

“I felt like Chicago was definitely a heat-of-the-moment situation,” he said.

Before meeting with Johnson, Busch said he didn’t expect any fireworks when they got together.

“We’ll work on it, shake hands and laugh about it,” Busch said.

The former champion downplayed the idea of developing an ongoing feud with Johnson. There’s too much at stake to be settling scores.

While both are all but assured of a spot in the chase for the championship – Johnson is third in points, Busch is fourth – they’re not going to waste their cushion playing bumper cars.

“I don’t think it’s that big a deal where we need to worry about it,” Busch said.

Yet Chicago wasn’t the first time this year Johnson found himself reaching out to Busch to clear things up.

The two got together at the end of the race in Sonoma in June, when an error by Johnson ended up spinning Busch out, sending Busch tumbling to 15th while Johnson raced to fourth.

“I got loose and it was a racing thing,” Johnson said. “There was nothing intentional about it.”




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.





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