It was Kyle Busch versus the world on Sunday during the Go Bowling at The Glen on Sunday at Watkins Glen International.
Well, specifically, it was Kyle Busch versus William Byron and Bubba Wallace in a series of on-track incidents that drew the most attention during the 90-lap race in central New York.
The race was poised to be Busch versus the field in terms of who would win as the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion showed race-winning speed all weekend. However, that notion was challenged just two laps in when Busch spun underneath Byron heading into Turn 1 while racing for second.
[email protected] goes for a spin cycle early at @WGI
Everyone avoids him, but the @JoeGibbsRacing No. 18 has some ground to make up on NBCSN. Stream: https://t.co/wmwQrlNwAP pic.twitter.com/9N9Uj9axwM
There wasn’t any discernable contact between the two as Busch just spun while trying to take the position following the start of the race.
Busch only fell from third to ninth as he completed a perfect 360 spin, and quickly began to work his way back through the field.
Upon catching Byron for fourth on the ‘bus stop chicane’ during the final lap of the first stage on Lap 19, Busch punted the second-year Hendrick driver into the grass, littering his grille with dirt, grass and debris.
Prior to the pit stops, Byron crew chief Chad Knaus gave his young driver an aggressive order over the team’s radio:
“If I see the 18 come back around here without you knocking the (expletive) out of him, we’re going to have a problem.”
Byron ran up behind Busch, seemingly to retaliate per his seven-time crew chief’s order, and the 2015 champion promptly slammed on his brakes, forcing Byron’s No. 24 to run flat into the back of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18.
That issued severe damage to the front of Byron’s car, and the driver that began the race in second in ended the afternoon in 21st.
William Byron went to express his displeasure with Kyle Busch…
But wound up with a heavily damaged race car at @WGI. Watch on NBCSN or stream here: https://t.co/wmwQrlNwAP pic.twitter.com/76LPqXCXaf
Neither Busch nor Byron provided any commentary on what happened after the race, but Rick Hendrick stood up for his young driver during the post-race press conference for winning driver Chase Elliott. Keep in mind that Hendrick gave Busch his first Cup Series ride as well, nearly 15 years ago.
“If you let guys push you around, you let them know that you’re not going to let that happen,” Hendrick said. “I think (William) got the worst end of the deal when Kyle brake-checked him and knocked the front end out of the car. Sometimes, in the heat of the battle you want to do things, and if you thought about it a little bit more you settle down and finish the race.
“In the heat of the battle, I didn’t know Chad told him to [do that]. If I had a radio, I would have probably told him the same thing.”
Meanwhile, Bubba Wallace likely successfully executed the payback that Knaus had in mind for Byron., following his own run-in with Busch on Lap 39.
Busch again engaged in contact with Wallace in the carousel turn on Lap 61 and that was one incident too far from Wallace’s standpoint. Going down the frontstretch in the following lap, Busch and Wallace began dooring each other, with Wallace ultimately turning Busch around into Turn 1.
[email protected] vs. @KyleBusch!
Beating and banging down the frontstretch with Bubba sending Kyle spinning. Watch on NBCSN or stream: https://t.co/UNrfpf97zY pic.twitter.com/3Jtgwt9kWP
Speaking to on-site reporters, including those from NBC Sports and Frontstretch, Wallace didn’t hold back on his reasons for dumping the veteran champion.
“He just ran me the (expletive) over, that’s exactly what happened,” Wallace told those outlets. “I don’t care if I’m two years in, rookie stripes or what, but I’m going to get my respect on the track and I don’t care who it is. That’s what guys fail to think about the young guys or with me. I won’t put up with no shit, so I flat out wrecked his ass.
“He ran over me, for sure. I guess we’re even … That’s what happens when you get run over, you just pay it back. I won’t be like ‘Oh, it’s Kyle Busch, he didn’t mean to.’ (Expletive) him.”
Busch went on to finish 11th, while Byron finished 21st and Wallace, 28th.
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