Kurt Busch: Putting the "R" back in racing
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP)
''It's one of those emotion points that boiled over,'' Busch said Saturday morning before NASCAR Cup qualifying at Watkins Glen International. ''I felt like the way we raced each other on the track was what champions need to do, and that is to bring the car home where they were running on track. Third and fourth was where we were, and that's where we crossed the line. Where we raced each other with a juke and a jive and rubbing, that's racing.''
Busch, the Nationwide winner Saturday, said a talk with his father reaffirmed his actions at Pocono.
''It's rubbing racing,'' Busch said. ''I'm putting the ''R'' back in racing.''
Johnson accused Busch of trying to run him down on the final lap and said Friday that he was angered by Busch's remarks after their argument in the pits.
''I walk away and he keeps talking. That's the part that frustrates me,'' Johnson said. ''That's when you saw me engage like that. If you're going to say something, say it to a man's face. I don't know about you, but that really makes me mad. He just started running his mouth.''
''If we would have calmed down a little bit, there probably would have been a better discussion,'' Busch said. ''But he was real amped-up. He felt like I did him wrong.''
Johnson said he was trying to break the draft when he swerved at Busch's Penske Racing Dodge at the top of the front straightaway at Pocono and said he never touched Busch's No. 22.
''That's not the move of a five-time champion,'' Busch said. ''That's the move of a guy that has had an issue with a guy like me. We've raced each other hard, I've been spun out and wrecked a few times and we both know that we look at each other very sternly. That's great competition.
''When you have a history with a guy, you just don't forget about it,'' Busch said. ''If I'm in his head, then he's got to worry going into this Chase.''
Busch is fourth in the standings, two spots behind Johnson with the Chase for the Sprint Cup title set to begin after five more races.
''To be in position to race Jimmie Johnson head to head, that would be wonderful,'' said Busch, who won his only Cup title in 2004, beating Johnson by eight points, the slimmest margin in series history. ''But the way this new points system is structured, it's not really possible because you can't focus just on one guy.''
CONSISTENT KYLE: Everybody figured it was just a matter fo time before Kyle Busch won a NASCAR Cup title, especially after his showing in 2008.
Busch won eight races, posted 17 top fives, and seemed set to challenge Jimmie Johnson for the Sprint Cup championship three years ago. Instead, he fizzled in the Chase and finished 10th.
Still, that was a special season for the 26-year-old star, who has 100 victories over NASCAR's top three touring series.
''2008 was a special year,'' Busch said. ''People didn't know these cars completely. I felt like there was a lot more driver involved when we didn't know so much about these cars. Now that we know so much, we've come such a long ways that certainly a lot more cars are involved.''
On Saturday, Busch won the pole for Sunday's Cup race at Watkins Glen International. It's his first pole of the season, first-ever on a road course, and it puts him in a good place to chase his fourth victory of the season.
''I feel like we're a lot better than we've ever been,'' Busch said. ''We don't have the tally of eight wins, but we're a lot more consistent. Before, we'd have a bad race and not be able to rebound from it.''
Busch, who is third in the standings after 21 races, has 11 top fives and has led the most laps by far in the series this year - 1,087 to brother Kurt's second-place total of 548.
GORDON A LEGEND: Four-time Watkins Glen winner Jeff Gordon was installed as a Legend of The Glen, joining the likes of two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart and Formula One's Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark, among others.
''I think they consider me a legend here because it's been so long since I've actually done anything here,'' Gordon, who has four wins at The Glen but none since 2001, said with a laugh. ''Looking back on the history, I guess my name popped up.''
In 18 Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen, Gordon has led 227 laps, more than any other driver in the series, and only Stewart (5) has more wins.
''This is a place that's very special to me, and the performances that we've had over the years here have been some of my favorites in my career because I didn't grow up road racing,'' Gordon said.
SPARK PLUGS: Jeff Burton officially joined Twitter on Friday, making his first tweet from Watkins Glen: ''The Glen is so damn fun. We need to be a little bit better, but not far off.'' ... Joey Logano was pulling triple duty, running Cup, Nationwide and Rolex Grand-Am. ''This is fun jmping betwen all these cars. I've got to make sure I don't get confused,'' Logano said ... The economy hasn't had much of an effect at WGI this year. President Michael Printup says the track sold only 57 fewer tickets than last year for Cup weekend, which annually attracts a crowd of around 100,000.