SPARTA, Ky. — They left pit road together, walking nearly as close as they had driven late in Saturday night’s Cup race, these combatants who once fought after an event.
There was no need to separate Kyle Busch and Joey Logano this time at Kentucky Speedway. As they walked, their arms moved, but that’s how drivers talk, using their hands to illustrate what they’re discussing about the car.
Their late duel was just part of a thrilling finish that Kyle Busch lost to his older brother Kurt. For the first time in their careers, Kurt Busch won a Cup race with Kyle Busch second. After leading when the race went to overtime, Logano fell back and finished seventh.
But with about 20 laps left, Kyle Busch and Logano battled for what would be the lead once the two cars ahead of them pitted. Logano got underneath Busch on the frontstretch and came up the track. They nearly hit. Busch darted to his right to avoid the contact.
They continued to duel. Busch crossed over and got under Logano on the backstretch. Busch moved his car up, pressuring Logano but the defending series champ had the preferred line into Turn 3 and got by.
Busch then radioed crew chief Adam Stevens that his car was not handling as well. Stevens told the former champion: “Strap it up and … get after it.”
Logano couldn’t hold off both Busch brothers on the green-white-checkered finish.
“The caution came out at the wrong time,” Logano said. “It happens. You try to think through your notebook on how to have a good restart. I thought I was going to have a decent one but I got stopped on the left rear there when Kyle (Busch) got into me.
“That is what it is. That stopped all my momentum. (Kurt Busch) had a huge run, and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t block them all. I tried to stop (Kyle Busch) on his right rear by side-drafting.
“I saw (Kurt Busch) coming and felt like if I could get in front of him that we were so low at the time if I blocked (Kurt Busch) he would just go to the middle and pass me. I felt like I couldn’t stop (him). I was in a bad spot. Once I got stopped on the left rear on the restart, I was a sitting duck and they just went by me on both sides.”
As for Kyle Busch? He was left with a runner-up finish.
“At least I salvaged the same finish we should have had anyways,” Kyle Busch said.
Kyle Busch also pondered doing more on his last-lap duel with his older brother.
“I knew I cleared him into (Turn) 3, and if I just stayed in the gas, I was never going to make the exit,” Busch told NBC Sports. “I was going to plow the fence. Maybe I should have just gotten in front of him and messed up his air. It’s so easy to do with these cars, it’s pretty much just an air game. I missed my chance over there, I guess. That’s about all I could have really done different.”