Kyle Busch discusses Watkins Glen incidents with Bubba Wallace, William Byron

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BROOKLYN, Mich. — Kyle Busch admits it was “surprising” that the two drivers he had issues with last week at Watkins Glen International were those who raced for his Truck Series team early in their careers.

Busch had confrontations on the track with Bubba Wallace and William Byron at the Glen. Wallace drove for Busch’s Truck team in 2013-14, Byron drove for Busch’s Truck team in 2016.

“I would say it’s kind of surprising, I guess, that you get into with two former drivers because, I guess, you would kind of expect a little bit more or different from them than you would say some other competitors out there,” Busch said Friday at Michigan International Speedway. “I guess I just didn’t quite get that. Overall, as far as conversations went … was better understanding between the both of them. Move forward.”

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Said Wallace of his meeting with Busch: “We both agreed to disagree on what led up to those events and what happened and obviously frustrations were high.”

“We had a good conversation. We were kind of pissed off with each other. I’d say something and piss him off and vice versa but at the end of the day we shook hands and it was over with. He finished 11th (at Watkins Glen), I’m not a threat to him. But at the same time I’ve still got to get my respect.”

Busch said that issues with Wallace began before Watkins Glen.

“There were two other races prior to that one that had kind of built up to the backstretch,”  Busch said. “I set up my pass on him for the inner loop back in Turn 2, got a run on him through 2, got a run on him through 3. He messed up Turn 3 pretty bad and I was on him and actually to his outside through Turn 4 and he didn’t know I was there and he ran me off in the dirt off Turn 4. I had to get off the gas.

“And so I figured the next time I get to him, If I get him and I’m alongside him or not and he comes over and chops my nose, it is what it is. That’s what happened in the carousel. Did I mean to crash him? No. I didn’t mean to crash him. Did I mean to move him? Sure. It escalated from there.”

Busch was upset with Byron after spinning on Lap 2 as he tried to pass Byron.

“He came down and chopped and hit me in my left front, which just spun me out,” Busch said. “Yes, I think it was avoidable.”

“If you look at lap 3, (Martin Truex Jr.) was passing (Kyle Larson) getting into Turn 1 and (Larson) gave a car width and half of room and everything was fine. And if you fast forward again to Lap 13 and (Truex) was passing (Byron) the exact same way I was getting into Turn 1 and (Byron) broke hard enough to where he got behind (Truex) before they got to the corner and made the corner single file. There’s different things at different times. Now, if it was the last lap, I would have expected him to do exactly what he did. Lap 2, you expect different I guess.”

Said Byron about the incident: “We got a chance to talk, and obviously I have a lot of respect for Kyle, having driven for him and winning the races that we did. That year in 2016 was a big deal for my career. But as far as racing goes, I felt like I gave enough room. He feels like I didn’t give enough room. Obviously, it’s just racing. Stuff like that happens and you learn from it. I learned a little bit about Turn 1 and what maybe I could have done differently. Hopefully he learns a little bit too.”

Byron retaliated by running into the back of Busch’s car under caution after crew chief Chad Knaus told him to do so on the radio. Busch saw Byron coming and hit the brakes, causing Byron to ram into the back of Busch’s car harder and damaging Byron’s car.

“I mean ultimately I’m driving the race car and have got to make good decisions,” Byron said of what Knaus told him to do. “If he tells me something to do, I ultimately make the decision. It’s up to me, obviously it’s my space and everything. I felt like I was done a little wrong and that’s kind of how I handled it. Unfortunately, it cost me a lot more so I learned from that for sure.”

For Byron, this is his second high-profile incident this summer with a veteran driver. Brad Keselowski wrecked Byron in practice at Daytona when Byron came down to block. So does Byron feel as if he’s being picked on veteran drivers?

“I feel like there is a way it could be handled and not, I guess, be taken out quite so much on me with the brake check and the (Daytona) practice crash,” Byron said. “I don’t know. They’re racing me how they feel I need to be raced. I race them as well.”