Postcard from Las Vegas: The other side of Tony Stewart

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LAS VEGAS – Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch has seen the various sides of three-time champ Tony Stewart in ways few have.

They’ve been teammates and competitors.

In a conversation with NBC Sports and ESPN on Wednesday, Busch talked about a few special moments with Stewart, who will retire from the series after next year.

Stewart was among the first to see Busch the day after his crash at Daytona in February that left Busch with a broken right leg and fractured left foot.

“I woke up that morning and (wife) Samantha and I, we shared some tears because we were missing the Daytona 500,’’ Busch said. “Then I fell asleep during much of the race. I actually woke up with about 20 to go and got to see the end. After the race was over, Tony texts me and says ‘Hey, I’d like to come over there. Are you up and OK for visitors?’ I’m like ‘Yeah man, come on over, no problem.’

“He came over and he was there for four hours. We just hung out. It was really nice of him. I was like, ‘Man, don’t you have to go?’ He goes, “Those people can wait.’’ He made them wait (on his airplane) for four hours.’’

Busch also shared a story about when he and Stewart didn’t see eye to eye.

“We’ve had some open conversations, some pretty frank conversations,’’ Busch said. “I remember California and it was maybe a week or two after he called me a dart with no feathers or whatever it was, we had a little sit down and sort of cleared the air.’’

I interrupted Busch to ask if he had much say in that conversation.

“I did,’’ Busch said. “I gave him my piece. He may not have agreed with me 100 percent right there, which is fine. I didn’t agree 100 percent with what he said, but we shook hands and walked out of there with a happy medium, not mad at each other. We’ve been great since.’’

Then Busch recalled a time when he thought things weren’t as good between them.

“There were a couple of moments, I don’t know if it was ’09 or if it was ’10,’’ Busch said. “I called him or texted him and I was like, ‘Hey man, do we have a problem again?’ I just felt like he was maybe being a mean driver to me. I was like it is so much more fun to race with you when you were a teammate. I hate it when you’re on the other side.’’

“He goes, ‘What’s wrong?’ I told him. He goes, “I’ll fix it. That’s my bad. Don’t worry about it. It had nothing to do you.’ He’s always been well receptive to criticism both to giving and to receiving.’’