All things considered, Kurt Busch took getting dumped on the last lap of Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway pretty well.
Busch was running third on the final lap behind Brad Keselowski, the race winner, and Busch’s younger brother, Kyle. As the cars raced down the frontstretch towards the checkered flag, Kurt’s No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet got turned by Keselowski’s teammate Joey Logano.
Instead of finishing third, the elder Busch wound up 23rd, the last car on the lead lap.
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"You can’t drive other people’s cars for them," Busch correctly noted. "I think that he (Logano) made an aggressive mistake. You can’t go from fifth to first. There’s just no shot at it. And, it’s a shame that we ended up spun around and wrecked. We could have come out of here with the point lead."
That’s a much more measured reaction than a lot of drivers would have under the circumstances.
"We positioned ourselves to be the car to get a good run off the bottom," said Busch. "It just didn’t work out with him (Logano) trying to drive straight through us. And it would have worked out better if he would have pushed us. We could have had a shot at the No. 2 (Keselowski)."
But Busch never got that shot.
"We did everything right tonight except cross the line where we were supposed to," he said.
Afterwards, Logano took responsibility for the incident.
"I hate that I got into Kurt there at the end racing to the line," said Logano. "I had a run to turn up underneath him and when you do that the cars get free and then I was there and he tried to catch it and I was there again."
Logano said that these things happen at restrictor-plate tracks.
"It is a product of this racing but I hate that it happened," he said. "The last thing I want to do is hit someone like that."
The incident was the latest contact between a Penske driver and a competitor over the last couple of seasons, including Kansas last fall, when Logano spun out leader Matt Kenseth, who famously retaliated at Martinsville.
Team owner Roger Penske defended Logano in his post-race press conference.
"Well, look, I have to look at each situation accordingly, and I would say this, that Joey has taken, I think, some undue criticism from my perspective based on some of the things that have happened," said Penske, who Busch used to drive for.
"I’m behind him (Logano) 300 percent, and I’ll talk to Kurt," Penske added. "He didn’t do it on purpose. It could have been a big mess down there tonight, too, and at the end of the day, that’s racing as far as I’m concerned."
Well, that turned out like 💩. We were so close to the 🏁. Gonna go grab ✈️🍻🦄. #KB41