A day after being stripped of his pole run at Atlanta Motor Speedway following an issue in post-qualifying inspection, Kyle Busch downplayed the significance of the irregularity with his No. 18 Toyota while insisting that winning Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at AMS did nothing to take the sting off Friday’s disappointment.
"This is XFINITY and that’s Cup, so it is what it is," Busch said during his XFINITY post-race news conference on Saturday afternoon. "It’s not that big of a deal. When you get out on the racetrack things move, parts and pieces expand, they get hot and whatever, and you miss on a laser beam by 15 thousandths of an inch. It is what it is. We move on."
Busch was denied the opportunity to lead the field to the green flag for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, handing the top spot to older brother Kurt Busch, when the vertical angle at which his rear wheels were skewed — called "the toe" — did not meet the specifications of NASCAR’s laser inspection platform.
So instead of starting up front, he’ll roll off last on the 39-car grid.
"We’ll start in the back tomorrow and try to make sure that issue doesn’t happen to us again," said Busch, who appeared to be already looking ahead to next weekend’s Sprint Cup race in his hometown of Las Vegas. "Maybe we can go sit on the pole next weekend at Las Vegas, which would mean even more to me than sitting on the pole here at Atlanta. No offense. Just would love to be up front at my home track and go try to score a win there, but I’ve still got try to race tomorrow and get a win tomorrow."
As for whether he was surprised to be DQ’d, the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion demurred — and offered a healthy dose of perspective on the situation.
"We’re not the first and we’re certainly not going to be the last," said Busch, whose theory on what caused the car to flunk inspection echoed the theory offered by crew chief Adam Stevens on Friday. "It’s unfortunate but days move on, and getting thrown out after qualifying’s a lot easier to take than being thrown out after the race or having your crew chief get a penalty or being suspended or something like that. I’m pretty excited that none of that happened and I get to keep Adam and we’re all good. So we’ll be fine and work on what we need to do for tomorrow."