FONTANA, Calif. — Kyle Busch hasn’t spoken to David Reutimann or anyone from his team since last week’s bumping battle, hasn’t looked at the video of it and is still mad about it.
Apology? Yeah, right.
“I race guys how they race me and I’ve always gotten raced really, really hard against David Reutimann, and I’ve gotten no room, no slack, no nothing,” Busch said Friday at Auto Club Speedway. “Why would I apologize to a guy that races me like a (jerk) every week? There’s no point.”
The dustup started early in last week’s race at Kansas when Busch got into the back of Reutimann and caused him to spin out. Reutimann remained in the race and when he was next to Busch again, about 100 laps later, sent the No. 18 car into the wall with a retaliatory bump.
The second incident damaged Busch’s car and his title chances, dropping him from seventh to 21st in the race and from third to seventh in the Chase.
“Obviously, there was malicious intent involved in what he did and had it happened a little differently than what it did, who would have known what could have happened,” Busch said. “Obviously, he was trying to spin me out and he missed, and caused some other damage. If he would have spun me out, who’s to say at that speed I couldn’t have gotten upside down or something down the backstretch?
The incident sparked fresh debate on a hot-button issue: whether drivers not eligible for the title should race drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship any differently.
For most drivers, the answer is no.
“I think everybody needs to race us as hard as they can,” said Kevin Harvick, third in the Chase, 30 points behind Sprint Cup leader Jimmie Johnson. “Everybody will race everybody with respect and obviously if you feel like you’ve been done wrong, then you are going to handle it however you think it needs to be handled.”
The general rule on the circuit, as Busch said, is drivers race how they want to be raced. Race hard but fair, that’s what you’ll receive in return. Get a little too aggressive, well, keep an eye on your mirror.
“It’s all respect,” said Chase driver Clint Bowyer. “It’s no different than you working in an office. If you show respect and give respect, you’re going to get it back. There has to be respect and if there’s not, things are going to happen.”
Most of the time, though, it’s not just a one-time flare-up. Someone gets into the back of you once, maybe you let it slide. Do it several times over the course of the season and retaliation is likely around the next left turn.
“That whole deal that went down last week wasn’t just about what happened last week. It was what happened throughout the year,” fellow driver Jeff Burton said. “When you feel like somebody doesn’t respect you and doesn’t show you respect and then they get into you whether they meant to or not, there’s a different level of thought process.”
COACHING DANICA? Danica Patrick may get a driving coach.
The popular IndyCar driver has spoken with NASCAR’s Mark Martin about working with her and says she’s open to any help she can get in figuring out the nuances of driving stock cars.
“It would be nice if somebody could help me, whoever it is — I would take any help,” Patrick said. “Like he (Martin) said, you need somebody to get in the car and say this is the setup, go drive it after they’ve driven it. It’s one thing to say drive this line, do this or that, but when you don’t have maybe the car that can do that, it’s just words, so it would be nice for someone to throw me in a car after they’ve driven it so I get a real feel for it.”
Patrick’s part-time foray into NASCAR hasn’t gone particularly well as she’s tried to get a feel for the harder-to-drive stock cars. She ran the first three Nationwide races of the season, finishing no higher than 31st, and added four more races when she had breaks in the IndyCar season with similar results.
Now that the open-wheel season is over, Patrick is slated to run the final six Nationwide races, starting Saturday at Auto Club, and hopes the consistency of no longer flip-flopping between series will turn out better results.
Martin could be the one to help her.
The stock car veteran spoke with Patrick for about an hour when they first met in Phoenix in 2006 and stopped by to talk with her at Dover two weeks ago. If he can fit it into his busy schedule, Patrick would be all for having a 40-time Cup winner in her corner.
“He’s incredibly busy, obviously, with a full season and I would take anything he’d be willing to give,” said Patrick, who finished 10th in the IndyCar Series standings after taking second at the season finale in Florida last week.
BOWYER’S REACTION: Clint Bowyer’s chances of getting back the 150 points he was docked for a failed inspection at New Hampshire came down to a ruling by NASCAR on Tuesday.
So was Bowyer at home, anxiously awaiting the decision? Nope. He was in New Mexico, elk hunting with few of his fellow NASCAR drivers and didn’t even hear about the ruling until on Wednesday.
“Elliot (Sadler) was driving and I was like, ‘Where are we?” Bowyer said. “I think Truth or Consequences (N.M.) is where I finally found out what was going on.”
With the decision looming, Bowyer decided he needed a break, so he went on a hunting trip with Sadler, Bobby Labonte, Kasey Kahne and Dale Jarrett, followed by a couple of days in Las Vegas. The ruling didn’t go in his favor, but Bowyer felt refreshed after three days in the woods without turning on his cell phone.
“Sometimes it’s neat to get out and get away — and I’m talking completely away — and enjoy yourself,” Bowyer said. “It was a well-needed week.”