Kyles collide: Larson, Busch meet up in bad way at Charlotte
After racing hard at the front of the field for much of Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson had a strange incident coming to pit road under the eighth caution of the day.
It led to contact that appeared to ruin both of their once-promising afternoons.
As the pace car brought the field out of Turn 4, race leader Joey Logano stayed on the track as many behind him came to pit road. Running second, Larson initially opted to stay on track, but made a hard left to pit road at the last minute.
At the same moment, Busch — who was running third — decided to stay on track and made a right to turn back up the track at the same instant.
The two drivers made significant contact, sending Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet spinning on pit road.
"What the f–k was he thinking? He wasn’t going to make the commitment cone anyway," Busch told his crew of Larson over the team radio.
The two teams quickly went to work making repairs to the cars, while trying to remain on the lead lap. Both cars made multiple stops under the caution and each had to start at the rear of the field due to a commitment line violation.
When the race went back to green flag conditions on Lap 200, Larson was 22nd and Busch was 23rd. The pair had spent the majority of the race inside the top five prior to the incident.
After the incident, neither driver was able to claw their way back into contention and struggled for the remainder of the race. When the checkered flag flew for race winner Joey Logano, Busch was 20th and Larson was 21st, both a lap down.
Following the race, Larson took full blame for the incident.
"My crew had told me to do what the guys around me were going to do, so I was just going to follow the 22 (Logano) and do what he did," said Larson. "When I saw the 22 stay out I was going to stay out with him. Right when I turned right they were yelling at me to pit, pit, pit. I turned left as hard as I could because I was already close to the commitment cone and just turned right into Kyle’s right front. I just feel awful for those guys and I hope I’m not the reason they miss the next round."
Crew chief Adam Stevens explained Busch was going to stay out the entire time, but was attempting to fake out the drivers behind him when Larson came down the track.
"(Kyle) knew the call the whole time, he was just doing what he normally does. The big question is what was the 42 (Larson) doing," said Stevens. "There was no way, whether we were there or not, he turned down so late that he was going to hit the cone — he was going to completely miss the cone on the right or maybe touch it with his left side somewhere, there was no way he was going to get under the cone. I don’t know what he was doing, but you’ll have that sometimes. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional.”
Busch did not directly discuss the incident, but expressed his frustrations of a good day going away.
“I don’t know. Just can’t say enough about my guys – all the work that they put into these things," said Busch. "They don’t deserve to be put in these situations year in, year out, but we are for some reason. But it’s tough and we’re going to have to battle through with what we’ve got right now. I can’t say enough about what they did on pit road getting us back salvageable.
"You know, can’t pass anybody," he said. "Single-lane race track and then you put oil on the top lane to try to make anything happen and then you put yourself in the fence, so thanks to NASCAR for cleaning that up, but just every single year it keeps going the same way.”
With the 20th-place finish, Busch heads to Kansas for the second race of the Contender Round of the Chase 10th in the standings, 10 points behind Brad Keselowski in eighth.