KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Getting wrecked is bad enough.
Getting wrecked by the guy taking your job is even worse.
Kyle Busch, who entered Sunday’s rain-shortened LifeLock 400 atKansas Speedway as the only driver in the Chase for the Nextel Cup withtop-five finishes in the first two Chase races, saw that come to a crashing halt on Lap 28 when he was hit from behind by DaleEarnhardt Jr.
Ironically, Earnhardt Jr. is replacing Busch at Hendrick Motorsportsafter this season. Earnhardt Jr. did not qualify for the Chase.
The damage to Busch’s No. 5 Chevrolet was extensive, but his crewmanaged to make sufficient repairs to allow him to get back on thetrack. He ended up 41st and dropped to sixth in points, 136 behindleader Jimmie Johnson.
Busch was one of the seven Chase drivers who were involved in wrecksin Sunday’s race and took the biggest hit.
“It was a pretty stupid move on his part,” Busch said.
“I just gave him a lane to try to let him go on the outside because I knew he wasgoing to have a run off the corner. I got run into the back and got spunout down the back straightaway for absolutely no reason.
“I’m sure these guys he’s going to be working with next year don’treally appreciate this because they’ve got a championship they can winthis year and he doesn’t.”
During a caution following the incident, Earnhardt Jr. tookresponsibility and apologized over his team radio.
The race was shortened to 210 laps following a nearly 2 hour,15-minute rain delay and Earnhardt Jr. finished 10th. He was asked the incident during the rain delay.
“We put (Busch) out. That was an accident,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Iwant to apologize to his fans and their team and Kyle. That was a badmistake on my part.
“I was running the top and he was going by me. I wasn’t racing himthat hard. I thought he was going to head to the middle (groove) and Iwould go by him. I had time to get out of it, but I just didn’t get it.
“That was the last guy I wanted to run into, the last team I wantedthat to happen to.”
Asked how Sunday’s results affected his chance at winning his firstchampionship, Busch replied: “Who cares. It is three (races) in. Westill have seven more (races) to go. We are going to have to make it up.
“We had a top-three car; that is the point. We aren’t going to get atop-three finish.”