LONG POND, Pa. – Jeff Burton jokes he gets all the drama in his life he needs from his 14-year-old daughter, he doesn’t need a feud with Kyle Busch to add to the heartburn.
So forgive the veteran driver if he’s not exactly in the mood to add his name to the growing list of drivers who find themselves at odds with the NASCAR’s resident bad boy.
Is Burton still a little annoyed at Busch for knocking him out of contention at the end of last week’s race at Charlotte? Sure. Just don’t expect Burton to go looking for retribution on Sunday at Pocono.
“I’m not interested in a weekly confrontation,” Burton said Friday. “I don’t like yearly confrontations much less weekly. I’m here to race Pocono and go out and win this race and I know he is too.”
It’s what they were doing following the final restart Charlotte Motor Speedway last Sunday. Both cars were running in the top 10 when Busch ran out of room trying to squeeze underneath Burton and ended up slicing Burton’s left front tire.
Burton immediately checked up and tumbled through the field to a 25th-place finish. He angrily chased down Busch on pit road immediately following the race, a rare public display of anger by one of NASCAR’s most respected and levelheaded drivers.
Looking back, Burton admits he may have stepped over the line. He’s not exactly sorry about it.
“I felt better,” he said.
So much so Burton was over it by Monday. That might not have happened a decade ago, when every perceived slight would be chronicled and stored away for later use. These days Burton has more pressing needs to worry about, namely trying to keep his No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet inside the top 12 in points.
Burton is eighth in the standings halfway through the 26-race regular season and can’t become preoccupied with trying to find Busch’s No. 18 Toyota during a race to exact a little payback.
“I like racing with Kyle and I don’t have any problems with Kyle,” said Burton, who will start 13th on Sunday. “He knows exactly how I feel and we can talk about it.”
Not that the two are going to hug it out anytime soon. Both say there’s no need.
Besides, if Busch had to spend time trying to patch things up with every driver he’s ticked off, he’d never make it out of the hauler and onto the track.
Last week it was Burton. The week before it was Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, who Busch said he was going to “kill” after Hamlin knocked Busch out of the way during the All-Star race.
The circumstances of these run-ins hardly seem to matter. Busch has no illusions about where the blame will fall whenever he mixes it up with an opposing driver.
“You know I don’t get the benefit of the doubt, ever,” Busch said while letting out a little laugh. “So it’s all my fault.”
Greg Biffle didn’t exactly disagree, likening Busch’s move to trying to wedge a semi into a narrow parking spot at the supermarket.
“It just won’t fit,” Biffle said. “You can’t do it.”
The timing of the incident just a few laps from the checkered flag of the grueling 600-mile race didn’t help matters.
“It’s like running a 26-mile marathon and 300 feet from the finish a guy trips you,” Biffle said. “It’s a lot to do to get let down.”
Busch took full responsibility for Burton’s downfall, though he admits he had no idea what happened until well after the race. He knew the two were running close together during the restart but wasn’t aware they collided.