Kyle Busch: I'm aggressive, not dirty
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Kyle Busch has been called a lot of things during his career, but dirty is not one of them.
So when Todd Bodine used that to reference the way he raced him in Friday night's Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway, Busch went to Victory Lane to confront the series leader.
"I don't feel like I'm a dirty racer," Busch said between Sprint Cup practices at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. "I feel like I'm a hard racer and an aggressive one. I wouldn't call it dirty. Dirty is when you run into the back of somebody down the back straightaway and put them in the fence."
I thought that was kind of low, but that's how [Todd] Bodine is.” -- Kyle Busch on being called dirty by Todd Bodine
Busch, who dominated the race only to finish seventh because Bodine and others didn't have to pit late for fuel, was in his motorcoach changing while Bodine celebrated his fourth win of the year. Busch's biggest complaint was no late caution until Bodine said on live television, "I'd like to thank Kyle for driving me dirty and pushing us down."
Bodine was referring to an incident in which he spun out while Busch passed him on the high side.
"I thought that was kind of low, but that's how Bodine is," said Busch, who ironically flew to Atlanta on the plane owned by Bodine's team owner, Bob Germain. "The Germain's are great people and have the utmost respect for them. Bob [Germain] gave me a lift down here last night, I appreciate that. It was just a matter of hard racing I thought. [Bodine] didn't want me racing him that hard. Maybe next time I'll lift."
The spinout forced Bodine to pit for gas and allowed him to stay out during the final caution-free laps.
"I was three lanes up the race track," Busch said of the incident. "He chased it all the way up to me, I felt like. You watch the replay. I'm in the third lane. Typically, you try to run around the bottom of the race track, but I was trying to give him room and he ran into me through [Turns] 1 and 2.
"I know it's treacherous down there and I went into [Turn] 3 knowing I had to give him a little bit of room and tried. If I spin him out and he spins me out, what good is that for me? It's not going to do me any good. I actually had the courtesy to think about him spinning out and he did. I thought I gave him room."
Bodine didn't see it that way.
"Unfortunately, I've always had a lot of respect for Kyle,'' he said after the race. "Slowly but surely I'm losing it."
Bodine later said he hoped Busch learns some manners.
"It's not just the Trucks Series, it's every division he races," he said. "He's so good. He's without a doubt one of the best drivers NASCAR has ever seen. He doesn't have to drive like that to win races, but he does and he's getting away with it because NASCAR won't do anything about it. "He was mad because I called him out on it."
Bodine's comments weren't the only thing that upset Busch. He felt there should have been a caution down the stretch that would have allowed him to close the gap and keep alive his streak of five straight wins in NASCAR's three national series.
Busch pointed out that there was a debris caution at Chicagoland last month for something he never saw and noted that there were particles from Ron Hornaday's blown tire on the track in the closing laps at Kentucky.
But it was the reference to driving dirty that got Busch to Victory Lane.
"I didn't have to go to the media center so I didn't have a chance to battle there,'' Busch said. " I don't need to battle in the media, I'll just beat him on the race track."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.