Kyle Busch Explains Martinsville Teammate Controversy: “Denny Did What He Needed To Do”

Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor

FORT WORTH, TX – Last week, Kyle Busch made some news when he expressed some frustration with his teammates following the race at Martinsville Speedway. Feeling as though his teammates had been holding him up rather than allowing him to go by and run down the leaders, Busch’s frustration was that they had seemingly allowed Jimmie Johnson to go on and advance to the final race when they may have been able to get a Joe Gibbs Racing car to Victory Lane to advance themselves instead.

“Martinsville last week, the frustration kind of set in because I felt like the 20 (Matt Kenseth) was probably the fastest Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing) car there all day, he led the most laps, and Denny (Hamlin) and I were pretty equal, but it seemed like the 11 (Hamlin) was a little slower on that last run than he had been much of the day,” explained Busch. “We just weren’t given the chance to go up there and race the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) for the win to see if – a big if – if either of us could have a shot to give anything to the 48.”

Considering that the team had worked so well all year, and particularly so the week prior at Talladega Superspeedway, the disagreement came as a bit of a surprise. However, as the team had their regular meetings during the week, Busch was able to gain an understanding of why Hamlin handled the situation the way he did.

“When it comes down to this Chase format and it’s every man for himself and every point for himself, you look at Denny (Hamlin), the reason Denny did what he did is because now he has a third-place finish, which anything can change here or at Phoenix, but he has a third-place finish, which is the best of Matt (Kenseth) and I, if there was a tiebreaker situation,” continued Busch. “That’s what Denny was looking for and I get it, I understand it. I didn’t in the time frame that we were racing one another because I was more focused on one of us trying to go get the win and trying to still keep all of us eligible for Homestead. Denny did what he needed to do for the 11 team, which is respectable and understandable.”

As the season winds to a close with just three races left, Busch also acknowledged that this is also simply part of the sport.

“You’re mad at someone every week for something,” Busch said. “Somebody might cut you off on pit road, somebody may hold you up on a restart, somebody may do something else – I don’t even know what, but there are going to be instances when you are going to be mad at other drivers, mad at your teammates. You express those frustrations and I guess for me it would have been best to talk to my teammates first and kind of figure out what concept was there and the whole idea to what happened, happened. Looking back on it now, we have to focus forward and make sure we all try to work together best we can because we know the reason we are in this predicament is because of our teamwork and our relationships and our comradery that we have at the race shop each and every week that gets us to the point of being as good as we are on Sunday.”

Busch has a four-point cushion over the cutoff point heading into the second of three races in the Round of 8, which will determine the Championship 4 in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch had to go to a backup car after hitting the wall during the first practice session of the day.

Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 will begin at 2PM ET on NBC.


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