Kyle Busch on Kenseth crash: ‘Essentially, I guess I wrecked a teammate’
Matt Kenseth watched his championship hopes go up in smoke as he made contact with Alex Bowman heading into Turn 1 after the overtime restart on Sunday in the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
With two laps to go, Kenseth had a comfortable lead and appeared to be headed to Homestead-Miami Speedway with an automatic berth until Michael McDowell brought out the caution when he lost a tire and pounded the wall.
On the overtime restart, Kenseth had the high line heading into Turn 1 and believed he was clear of the No. 88 driven by Alex Bowman. He wasn't.
Kyle Busch got Bowman loose heading into the turn and accepted the blame for technically leading to the incident happening.
“It’s really unfortunate and devasting to have the race come down to the end like that,” Kyle Busch said immediately following the race. “I got a little bit better restart than the 88 and I felt like I had a run on him to the inside so if he came down and if he chopped me, he was going to get hit and wrecked. That’s what happened, then it carried on to the 20 and essentially, I guess I wrecked a teammate. That’s so aggravating and frustrating and I feel horrible about it.”
In Kenseth's post-race interview, he remained calm for someone who just saw their championship hopes disappear within two laps of the finish, but said he needed to see the tape before making a decision on what happened.
“I looked back and it looked like (Bowman) had a little run, shortly after I got cleared and started looking into the corner with the glare, and approached the corner down to the white line and I heard ‘inside’ right about the time I got turned backward and headed into the fence.” Kenseth said in his post-race interview. “I really don’t know what happened. I was going off of the information I had to make the corner and make the best two laps I could.”
Bowman seemed to agree with Kenseth's story that his spotter didn't clear him quickly enough heading into Turn 1.
“I’m not sure if he thought he was clear. It’s really unfortunate. You never want to ruin a Chase guys day like that,” Bowman said after the race. “I’d rather just go race him for the win. It kind of ruined our day too. Really unfortunate. The 18 jacked me up and got me really loose on entry but I was up against that inside wall when he and I made contact. I don’t know if his spotter cleared him but it was really unfortunate for Matt and definitely unintentional.
“The 18 jacked me up and got me really loose on entry but I was up against that inside wall when he and I made contact. I don’t know if his spotter cleared him but it was really unfortunate for Matt and definitely unintentional.”
No matter who takes the blame for the incident, Kenseth's chance for a championship in 2016 is over and instead of Joe Gibbs Racing having three cars battling for the championship, they'll only have two with Busch and Carl Edwards representing Toyota at Homestead.
Denny Hamlin was the other hope for JGR but finished seven points behind Busch for the final transfer spot.