For Kurt Busch, racing has always been about winning races, not friends.
Sunday’s race at Kentucky Speedway was no different.
After qualifying 27th, Busch was battling through the field on Lap 48. After he dove down on the apron before the start-finish line to pass Brad Keselowski, that’s when things went terribly wrong.
Contact with his former Penske Racing teammate collected five additional cars before the smoke cleared.
“Just a bonehead move on my part,” Busch said. “I feel like an idiot. If I could give my points back to them today I would. I went to the low side. Everybody says this track has got character, I found out what happens when all four tires are off the ground.
“It jumped back up. I was trying to ease out of it and get back behind him. It was too late. Just a stupid move on my part.”
Still, Busch salvaged a sixth-place finish in the process. He jumped up to 14th in the point standings with his seventh top 10 finish of the season.
Keselowski, the defending Sprint Cup champion wasn’t as lucky. Although he was able to return to the track, the No. 2 Miller Ford finished 33rd, 114 laps off the pace.
“He is smarter than that,” Keselowski said. “He knows better than that.”
“It is a wreck," Keselowski added. "Wrecks happen. It takes a chain of events to get there. We had the bottom lane on two or three restarts in a row and got shuffled back a little bit. We were trying to get patient because it looked like we will get the whole race in before rain and there is no reason to drive like an animal. Apparently I am the only one that got that memo. It is one of those deals.
“I know he didn’t intentionally wreck me but it is just one of those things. A chain of events with the way the cars drive and the track has that really bad bump down there and we all know it. There is no reason to go down there but he still did.”
Greg Biffle also returned to the Quaker State 400 field but finished one position behind Keselowski in 34th. With Biffle’s win at Michigan, he’s still ninth in the point standings although the No. 16 3M Ford lost three spots.
“You just have to keep working hard,” Biffle said. “That is all we can do. We can’t point fingers until we go back and watch the replay and analyze exactly what happened.
“Reality is we should have been up further but they were wrecking up there, too.”
While Busch wasn’t making excuses, he was one of many competitors affected by the bumpy surface on the 1.5-mile track.
“Well, it races like a street circuit,” Busch said. “We don’t have a street circuit on our schedule. There are danger spots on street circuits that you hear about. Apparently down on the apron by the start/finish line is a danger spot.”
For the first time this season, Keselowski finds himself outside of the Chase zone looking in. And with nine races before NASCAR’s playoffs, Keselowski remains winless as well.
“We are just going to go do our thing and we are just on a streak of bad luck,” Keselowski added. “It will turn around and when it does, we will be in Victory Lane and be all right.”