Chase Elliott said Kyle Busch was “deserving” of the middle finger Elliott gave him after being wrecked, but also stated that he didn’t think Busch crashed him on purpose Wednesday at Darlington Raceway.
Elliott said he was upset with Busch’s move that led to the contact and cost Elliott a chance to win the most recent Cup race. Elliott finished 38th. Busch, who finished second, said he made a mistake after the race and later apologized to Elliott.
“I think that (Busch) was trying to make a spot that wasn’t there,” Elliott said in a Zoom call with media Friday. “Much like I told him, I get that mistakes happen and that’s part of life. I get it, but he’s just not a guy that makes many mistakes. For me to be on the poor end of a rare mistake on his end, at the end of the day, is unfortunate for me and my team.”
Elliott said he has no regrets about the gesture he gave Busch after the incident when Busch drove by the accident scene.
“I thought it was warranted, and he was deserving,” Elliott said.
He also said: “I don’t think (Busch) did it on purpose. I hate that I was on the rare end of a rare mistake on his end. For a guy who doesn’t make many, hated that it was me that took the blow.”
Even though Busch has owned the mistake, the question remains if and how Elliott might pay back Busch.
“Who knows the situations or the circumstances you will be presented down the road,” Elliott said about any retaliation. “At the end of the day, the whole reason Wednesday was as unfortunate as it was is because we were battling for a win. So I guess the bottom line is to try to put ourselves in position to win more and that’s a good problem to have. That’s my goal.
“Nobody is perfect. I get that. Everybody makes mistakes. I’m sure I’ll make plenty of mistakes as time goes on. I get it. I just hate that I was on the wrong end of a rare one on his end.”
Elliott said he appreciated Busch owning the mistake.
“Kyle and I have gotten along for many years,” Elliott said. “I feel like I’ve raced him with a lot of respect because I respect him. I think he’s really good and he is. A two-time champion should be respected in my opinion. I think he’s earned that right.
“The respect from my end was there prior to the event. To hear that from a champion and a guy who we have raced really hard and clean together over the years, I think, goes further than someone who I don’t care for as much or somebody who I don’t get along with as well, or someone who doesn’t race with that kind of respect or that kind of integrity on track.
“What did it tell me about him? I learned he made a mistake and I was on the wrong end of it. He apologized to me. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the result. At the end of the day, it still costs us a shot at a win. At the end of the day that’s really the bulk of what matters to me and my team because we’re in the business to perform more than anything.”
Elliott will have plenty of chances to race Busch in the coming days. They’ll both be in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Wednesday Cup race there. Elliott also is scheduled to compete in Tuesday night’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Charlotte. Busch also is entered.