BRISTOL, Tenn. — Carl Edwards clearly isn’t conceding anything to Kyle Busch, and if this continues, the rivalry NASCAR fans seem to be clamoring for could be coming soon, too.
Edwards saw Busch lead 415 consecutive laps Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, then used his bumper to nudge Busch’s car aside with 30 laps to go, causing it to wiggle just enough so Edwards could drive by for his second consecutive victory in the Sprint Cup Series.
“It’s one of those deals where I couldn’t get by him, I couldn’t get by him, and I just had to ask myself, ‘Would he do that to me?’ Edwards said after doing his trademark backflip off the car in Victory Lane. “And he has before, so that’s the way it goes.”
And there’s no remorse in the offing, Edwards said.
“Let’s make it real clear — I’m not apologizing for it,” Edwards said, citing several instances where he felt like Busch took him out of races to gain positions. “We’re even.”
The triumph was the sixth of the season for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, allowing him to close the deficit of bonus points he’s likely to have to make up when the 12-race Chase for the championship begins. Busch has eight wins, and each is worth 10 Chase bonus points.
No other driver has won more than twice this season.
After taking the checkered flag, Edwards was making his cool-down lap around the track when Busch drove up and bumped his car. Edwards clearly wasn’t amused, and when he responded by driving the nose of his car into the right side of Busch’s, the fans cheered wildly.
“They keep talking about rivalries,” Edwards said. “We might have one now.”
Busch, who still leads Edwards by 212 points in the standings with just two races left in the regular season, said it’s unlikely his relationship with Edwards will improve soon.
“He hit me getting into Turn 1,” Busch said. “Whatever. Carl’s going to say he’s sorry, that he didn’t want to race that way, but he always does. We’ll take it, we’ll go on and we’ll race him that way in the Chase if that’s the way he wants to race.”
Busch finished second, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon, three drivers needing good nights to bolster their playoff prospects.
“We needed it pretty bad,” Gordon said of the solid finish, which followed a 42nd last week at Michigan. He remained ninth in the standings, 92 points ahead of 13th place.
Ryan Newman was sixth and was the only car not in Chase contention in the top 10. Clint Bowyer was seventh, followed by Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and rookie David Ragan.
Bowyer went from tied for 13th to 12th in the points race, Ragan remained 13th and Kasey Kahne was the only driver to move out of the top 12. He crashed before the midpoint of the race and finished 40th, dropping from 11th to 14th in the points standings.
Until the end, it looked like another showcase for Busch, who has used his first season in the Gibbs stable to become the most dominant driver in all of racing. Besides his eight victories in the premier series, he’s also won six Nationwide and three truck series races.
Busch used a daring move on the 55th lap to grab the lead. He had worked his way into third place and was watching Edwards try for several laps to get around the lapped car of Juan Pablo Montoya. When that effort caused Edwards to swing wide in the second turn, Busch angled his Toyota toward the inside line, a three-wide maneuver that took him from third to first.
Busch twice tried to hang onto the lead on restarts in the final 50 laps, and while he seemed to pull away on the first one, Edwards never let him do it given a second chance.