Busch brothers raising hackles again
With the small confines of Martinsville Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway in the rearview, some were expecting tamer racing in Texas.
Kurt Busch -- driving a lapped car -- made contact with former teammate Greg Biffle and sent Biffle out of the race. That continued the tailspin Biffle has experienced the first seven races of the 2006 season as the title hopeful sits 23rd in the standings.
Biffle said he's starting to reach his limit with his former teammate -- who two weeks ago pulled a bump-and-run on Roush driver Matt Kenseth and incited varying responses from drivers and fans.
"I knew he was a lap down," Biffle said of Busch at Texas. "They're all racing for position, too, but the thing about it is you've got to have a little bit of respect for the other drivers you're racing with and Kurt hasn't shown respect, or that surely wasn't showing respect.
"I moved up to kind of get a draft off the 21 [Ken Schrader] down the backstretch and Kurt just had to come off the gas a little bit to not run into the back of the car and he decided to run into the back of the car -- maybe to give me a, 'Hey, I'm here,' or whatever, but he tried that at the all-star race and wrecked a lot of good cars. He comes back and does the same thing here. At some point common sense has to set in and say, 'I can't run into the back of a guy at a superspeedway, a mile and a half track going 175 miles an hour, unless we have restrictor plate bumpers or our bumpers line up.' You just can't do it and if you continue to do that, then stuff is going to continue to happen."
The incident even riled up the drivers' significant others. Biffle's girlfriend, Nicole Lunders, stormed down pit road to have a brief chat with Busch's fiance, Eva Bryan. No blows were exchanged, no word on just what words were used.
Biffle bristled at what he thought was more than just a tap from Busch.
"Yeah, it was a hard hit," Biffle said. "I got a little bit of a scrape on the forearm, but other than that I think I'm alright. It was a wild ride, that's for sure. I got up in front of the 2 [Busch] and he had a little bit of a run down the straightaway, which you get here depending on if you come off the corner in the high line or the low line or where you're at, but he just didn't lift. He just ran into the back of me and turned me into the fence.
"I just watched the video and it's exactly what I thought happened. I left about a half a car width of room out there and was going straight ahead when he hit me and turned me in there. It's unfortunate. It's a little bit of a give-and-take game out there. If you get a run on somebody down the straightaway, you can't just run into the back of them because you're faster than them. I've had to lift on the gas all day in and around traffic, so it's kind of tough to take us out of the race like that."
For his part, Busch thought Biffle had dropped a cylinder. He couldn't figure out why Biffle was losing speed, but said he didn't intentionally punt the No. 16 Ford racer.
"I don't know what [Biffle] was doing," Busch said. "I was a lapped car trying to get out of the way. He had trouble passing the 21, and he checked up down the straightaway. I tried not to get into him. I had nowhere to go. He had a fast race car. He caught me from like 20 car lengths back in like a lap, so I don't know why he couldn't pass the 21. I was just trying to get out of the way."
Biffle said what made him angriest is that he had spent the entire day doing what he expected Busch to do -- get out of the way. If you're faster in the end, you'll get back to the front.
"At the beginning of the race," Biffle said, "I let the 9 [winner Kasey Kahne] in line, I let the 18 [J.J. Yeley] in line. It's a long race, 330 laps. They're trapped on the outside, the outside is not real good at the beginning. I've got three-quarters of a car length so I go ahead and let them in line. That's the gentlemanly thing to do and then five to eight laps later I was able to pass them. I passed them all and got to the lead. The fastest car ends up in the front. You've got to give and take a little bit. It's got to go both ways."
The wreck with Busch sent Biffle home 42nd and continued his struggles this season. Four times this year he's finished outside the top 30. Only twice has he come home in the top 10.
"We'll go home and put the Fusion car back together and get ready for Phoenix," Biffle said. "We've got Talladega coming up and some good tracks for us, so we'll see what we can do."
Biffle wasn't the only driver seething at a Busch racer. Clint Bowyer, who finished 19th, wasn't happy with Kyle Busch.
After getting behind late in the race, Bowyer and Co. took a two-tire pit stop while most cars took four. That made up some ground, but the rest was up to Bowyer to do on the track. But the car was too loose for Bowyer to work with, and that, combined with -- according to him -- a reckless Kyle Busch, foiled his day.
"If we could have had one caution between there we would have been sitting pretty, but unfortunately we kept getting looser and looser," Bowyer said. "We just got loose over there [off Turn 2 on the final lap]. I got sideways, but Kyle pretty much drove through me, so what goes around comes around."
Bowyer's promise for retribution is a common sentiment these days in NASCAR. Though it made sense when the words were uttered after short-track events, at Texas, it's not as expected -- but becoming increasingly common.
Emotions continue to run high in NASCAR and the season's just seven races old.
"Guys just need to use their heads," a miffed Biffle said. "That was out of line."
Rupen Fofaria is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.