DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Donnie Allison has never been one to mince words, and his opinion of the final-lap battle between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson at Chicagoland last Sunday was no exception.
“Best race I’ve seen in five years,” Allison declared during casual conversation with reporters on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. “That’s what they’re supposed to do.”
Larson parried with an aggressive charge through turns 1 and 2, knocking Busch’s Toyota into the outside wall at the exit of turn 2. After Larson edged ahead, Busch buried his No. 18 Camry into turn 3 and knocked Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet sideways.
Busch’s momentum carried him into the outside wall, but he bounced off, righted his car and sped to the finish line to win the race.
How hard did Busch drive into the final pair of corners to get back to Larson’s bumper?
“I don’t recall,” Busch quipped on Thursday evening, during Toyota’s announcement of the introduction of the new Supra into NASCAR Xfinity Series competition next year. “It was pretty far… I wrecked three times – I wrecked in (turn) 2, I wrecked in 3 and I wrecked in 1 after the checkered.”
Advised of Allison’s comments, Busch was appreciative.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “All the racers out there, all the people that know racing appreciated what that race was. A lot of other folks, casual fans that kind of watch the sport, didn’t appreciate it for what it was, because they said it was just one guy ramming another out of the way.
“Well, they take that little snidbit of (turns) 3 and 4 and don’t even look at 1 and 2, and it’s like, they don’t see the eye-for-an-eye-type of thing. You’ve got to know what you’re watching to appreciate it sometimes.”
The eye-for-an-eye understanding explains why there was no bad blood between the drivers after the race.
“The reason why Larson and I get along, and the reason why Larson and I can have a relationship and have respect for one another is because, at Bristol, I bumped him with five (laps) to go, and I gave him a chance to come back and get me back,” Busch said. “He didn’t get there. At Chicago, he bumped me and gave me an opportunity to come back for him, right?”
But Busch, like Allison, didn’t mince words when it came to his principal rival in the Cup series, Brad Keselowski.
“Brad and I can’t absolutely stand each other, or hate each other, because every time he runs into me, he (freakin’) wrecks me, and I’m out,” Busch said. “Like Watkins Glen that time (2012), there was not a chance for rebuttal.
“The reason why that was a great race to the end between him and (Marcos) Ambrose was because they battled it out. But every time, he just runs over me and wrecks me, so there’s never a chance for that rebuttal. There’s never that camaraderie with racing. It’s just wrecking.”
In the eight times Busch and Larson have finished 1-2 in a NASCAR race, Busch has been the winner all eight times. It might be relevant to consider what happens to the camaraderie when Larson starts to win his fair share.
Denny Hamlin: Stage-Based Racing Gives Entire Season A Playoff Feel
Denny Hamlin is right to be concerned, but he also knows he can cure his anxiety with a couple of trips to victory lane.
Entering Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Hamlin is eighth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, comfortably inside the cutoff for the Playoffs.
But Hamlin has only two Playoff points to his credit, the result of a pair of stage wins, while four drivers – Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr. and Clint Bowyer – already have accumulated double-digit Playoff points, which Busch leading the way with 30.
To Hamlin, that engenders an urgency to increase his Playoff point total over the next nine races.
“Now, when your competitors are kind of racking up points here and there, it gives you that playoff feel really throughout the entire regular season, and that’s what we aimed for, right?” Hamlin said. “So I think that it’s overall working.
“With just a few guys logging a bunch of points right now, I think it makes more good cars in danger of missing the cut early on one of these cutoff races. You’ve got to be aware of that and make sure you don’t take these early rounds for granted, even though you know, based on speed, you should be fine.”
WDUN will carry live MRN Radio coverage of Saturday night's NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 6 pm on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL
Coke Zero Sugar 400 – July 7, 2018
Saturday’s Starting Lineup
1. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 194.045 mph.
2. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 193.046 mph.
3. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 192.802 mph.
4. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 192.361 mph.
5. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 192.345 mph.
6. (17) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 192.164 mph.
7. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 191.812 mph.
8. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 191.669 mph.
9. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 191.445 mph.
10. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 191.298 mph.
11. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 191.152 mph.
12. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 190.981 mph.
13. (78) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 191.209 mph.
14. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 191.140 mph.
15. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 190.913 mph.
16. (62) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 190.900 mph.
17. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 190.876 mph.
18. (24) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 190.868 mph.
19. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 190.832 mph.
20. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 190.819 mph.
21. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 190.634 mph.
22. (43) Darrell Wallace, Jr. #, Chevrolet, 190.565 mph.
23. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, 190.396 mph.
24. (47) A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 190.339 mph.
25. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 190.042 mph.
26. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 190.034 mph.
27. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 189.777 mph.
28. (95) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 189.649 mph.
29. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 189.434 mph.
30. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 189.203 mph.
31. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 188.336 mph.
32. (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 188.001 mph.
33. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 187.371 mph.
34. (7) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 187.324 mph.
35. (96) D.J. Kennington, Toyota, 186.312 mph.
36. (00) Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 185.361 mph.
37. (99) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 185.033 mph.
38. (72) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 184.976 mph.
39. (51) Ray Black II(i), Chevrolet, 183.146 mph.
40. (23) J.J. Yeley(i), Toyota, 182.730 mph.
DNQ: (92) Timothy Peters(i), Ford, 181.068 mph.