Typical Matt Kenseth.
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Kenseth won the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, but no one was really paying attention.
Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski created all the drama when Busch sent Keselowski spinning across the infield grass and slamming rear-end first into the wall with 11 laps to go.
The collision triggered a war of words that Keselowski said will carry over into Sunday’s Sprint Cup Hollywood Casino 400 and possibly have an impact on the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
While Keselowski emerged from his Ford, sprinted down the apron and gave Busch’s pit crew a salute and piece of his mind, Kenseth rolled to victory in his Toyota ahead of Paul Menard and Regan Smith, both in Chevrolets.
“Now we’ve got war, and he started it, so he’s going to have a problem with the results,” Keselowski said. “I got wrecked by a dirty driver. There’s no other way of putting it. I’ve raced him really cool over the last year to be respectful to him and try to repair our relationship.
“I’ve watched him wreck my (Camping World) truck. He’s cost me winning races. He put me in the fence at Chicago in the truck race. In the Nationwide race he’s been pulling this crap. It’s not going to last, I can tell you that. I feel bad for (Busch’s crew) … they’re going to have to fix his (stuff). They’re going to have to deal with it.”
Busch, who finished fourth, took responsibility for the collision and said the contact was from “hard racing” and was unintentional. But he’s ready to take on any retaliation on Keselowski’s part during the Chase.
Kenseth leads the Chase, and Busch is in third place. Keselowski, the defending champion, did not qualify for the Chase, so he really has nothing to lose by going after them on the track.
“If he wants to take it over to the (Cup) garage … whatever,” Busch said. “But I’ve got more class than that. It shows what kind of person Brad is, and the class he doesn’t have.
“Brad Keselowski dumped me at Watkins Glen (in 2012), and I persevered … had a few opportunities to wreck him during the Chase and didn’t,” added Busch, who did not qualify for the Chase last year. “I let him and Jimmie (Johnson) battle it out on their own, and (Keselowski) won the deal. I could have cost Brad Keselowski the championship, but I’m a bigger person than that.”
Busch didn’t appreciate being called a “dirty driver” by Keselowski.
“Brad Keselowski knows what dirty drivers are, because he’s done it plenty of times,” Busch said. “I have yet to wreck a person on purpose.”
Busch said his Toyota got too tight off the corner and too close to Keselowski and couldn’t get the car to turn.
“I was on the bottom, and I was sliding across the back of him, and I was running right behind him, and I was just too tight,” Busch said. “I don’t know why he was not fast enough to stay away from me, but I was obviously faster than he was. I got too close to him, and it pulled me right into him. Once we touched, he was gone.”
Adding to the plot is Keselowski and the No. 22 Penske Racing team is battling Busch and the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing team for the owner’s championship. Keselowski’s 28th-place finish shaved Penske’s lead from 26 points to five.
“I’m not out there to take vengeance on a Nationwide Series championship,” Busch said. “I’ve got bigger fish to fry on Sundays than on Saturdays.”
Todd Engle, Special to The Star, contributed to this report
To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/randycovitz.