A form of flattery? Something deeper? Or just having fun?
Chase Elliott punctuated his victory over Kyle Busch in Tuesday night’s Truck race at Charlotte Motor Speedway by performing a bow, Busch’s customary celebration.
“It was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Elliott said after the win. “I thought we’ve had so much fun with this with Kevin (Harvick) putting up money (for a bounty to beat Busch) and Kyle is a good sport about it, I hope. Just having fun. It’s not a dig at anybody. Just having fun with it. It was about beating him and we did it, so why not have some fun with it?”
He didn’t know about Elliott’s bow until being told by a reporter in the Zoom media conference after the race but said: “Imitation is the strongest form of flattery or something, I don’t know what it is. Huh, that’s cute.”
The bow added to the growing saga between Elliott and Busch over the past week. It started when Busch wrecked Elliott late in a Cup race at Darlington while Elliott ran second, costing him a chance at a win. Elliott responded to that accident by giving Busch the middle finger when he drove by. Busch later told Elliott that he made a mistake.
Asked if he got any satisfaction beating Busch, who finished second, and ending Busch’s personal seven-race Truck winning streak, Elliott said: “Yeah I do, for sure. He’s really good in anything he does. I enjoy it just to have a chance to race against him. Like I said there on TV, I was glad that I had a chance to race him for the win instead of him finishing 10th or having a problem or one of us having a messed up night.
“For us to be able to go head-to-head for the win like that was really cool, certainly felt good to come out on top. Doesn’t make up for Sunday by any means (when Elliott lost the Cup lead pitting before overtime), but it was a fun night and I appreciate (GMS Racing) letting me do it.”
Busch said after the race that a broken part impacted his truck’s performance.
“It doesn’t help showing up to the race track with broke parts on your truck,” he said. “That was a problem from the get-go. Didn’t have our right front stopper right, so we were all over the splitter. So we came in and didn’t know that it was broke. We had to fix it with a makeshift piece and it was way too high then we tried to fix it and it just was never right. We were out in left field the whole night, never really had a great feel for the truck, a great driving truck and just salvaged what I could.”
Busch called the problem “self-inflicted.”
“Threw it away,” he said. “Had six months to prepare and screwed it all up.”
Tuesday marked Elliott’s first Truck start since 2017. Asked if he would do more, he said: “It was about beating Kyle and we did that, so I guess I can quit now.”
By beating Busch, Elliott scored the bounty.
Harvick and Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Gander RV and Outdoors, each put up $50,000 to any Cup driver who could beat Busch in a Truck race. They announced before Tuesday’s race that they would earmark the money to the COVID-19 relief program of the winning driver’s choosing.