NASCAR on NBC analyst Steve Letarte has a simple question after Wednesday night’s explosive situation between Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott.
Busch said after Wednesday’s race that he made a mistake when he clipped Elliott’s car while Elliott ran second late in the event at Darlington Raceway. The contact sent Elliott’s car sliding down the frontstretch and into the SAFER barrier on the inside wall. After exiting his car, Elliott walked toward the track and gave Busch the middle finger.
After the race, Elliott’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson discussed the incident with Busch.
“Mistake or not,” Letarte said on NASCAR America at Home (video above), “if I’m Alan Gustafson, if I’m Chase Elliott, I’m still mad. I am irritated. I don’t think that Chase is one to go turn him on purpose, but I would take every inch of every move with every benefit of the doubt for the rest of the season.”
Letarte said the “big story” is what will Elliott do in response.
This isn’t Elliott’s first issue with a Joe Gibbs Racing driver. Denny Hamlin spun Elliott late in the 2017 Martinsville race. They had a discussion after the race.
Two weeks later at Phoenix, Elliott and Hamlin were running side-by-side when a nudge from Elliott sent Hamlin into he wall. Hamlin’s car developed a tire rub that eventually cut the tire and sent the car into the wall.
Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Jeff Burton all said they thought the contact from Busch at Darlington was a mistake.
“Kyle Busch is going to get a lot of the blame,” Jarrett said. “He’s already taken the blame. He made a mistake and race drivers make mistakes. Things happen.
“You don’t think that’s going to happen like that on a straightaway, but that shows just how important it was for him to get back in line. … Kyle Busch just misjudged it a little bit.”
Said Burton: “(Busch) didn’t intentionally wreck Chase Elliott, but what he does have to do, other than just on TV, he’s got to take responsibility to Chase Elliott. He can’t wait for Chase Elliott to get in touch with him. He’s got to go make this right because it was his mistake and it’s on him to make it right. If you do those things as a driver, then typically things go away quicker.”