MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Kyle Busch is more concerned about his team than any threat from Aric Almirola after Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Martinsville Speedway.
Busch finished 14th after contact with Almirola with about 125 laps left that damaged Busch’s car and left him scrambling to score a top-15 finish.
Sunday continued a trend in these playoffs where Busch and his team have struggled or had issues during the race. The result is that he is third in the standings heading into next weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.
His biggest issue Sunday was with Almirola, who was upset with how Busch drove him after he repaid Busch for contact in the spring Martinsville race. Almirola vowed that “we’ve got three more weeks and I’m going to make it hell for him.”
Busch said of the incident with Almirola: “He ran over me, so I chopped him and then we got hooked together.”
Told of Almirola’s vow, Busch said: “Sounds good.”
Busch said he had “a lot of concern” about Sunday’s performance.
What in particular, Busch said: “Everywhere.”
What did Busch not have? He said: “Everything.”
Asked if anything went right for him Sunday, he said: “Nope.”
Car owner Joe Gibbs remained upbeat about Busch even if Busch wasn’t so after the race.
“I think one of the things about Kyle, for instance, today, what I really admire about him, it doesn’t matter what happens,” Gibbs said. “That car got beat up. He got spun around, everything in the world happened to him, and he still finished … 14th.
“I think he’s going to fight no matter what. Now, you’d like for it to be a lot smoother than that and you do go through — we all know that you can go through something where you struggle for a few weeks and certainly he hasn’t been winning races like he expects. He’s really — I know he and Adam (Stevens, the team’s crew chief) have spent a lot of time together trying to work their way through everything. So I think it’s part of being in a real tough sport. It’s the best people in the world that are racing in NASCAR.
“You’ve got the best owners, the best drivers, and it’s a tough deal. And you can see somebody as good as Kyle is, and right now we’ve had a situation where we’ve not been able to win races here.”
Cole Pearn, crew chief for winner Martin Truex Jr., also was high on his teammate: “They could have easily won last week (at Kansas) to be fair. I thought they probably had one of the best cars.”
Instead, Busch’s winless streak grows to 19 races.
Busch also declined to comment on Todd Gilliland’s comment about him after Saturday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race. Gilliland, who drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports in that series, scored his first series win Saturday. After he crossed the finish line, Gilliland said on the team’s radio: “Kyle Busch you can stay in your (expletive) motorhome.”