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Logano to Busch: Vegas Incident was ‘Honest Mistake’

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The first face-to-face meeting between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano since last week’s post-race scuffle in Las Vegas is over.
Whether the drivers feel any better about things headed into Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway is as open question.

The two were summoned to a 15-minute session Friday with NASCAR officials as everyone involved tried to put the pit road brawl to bed. Busch attempted to turn the attention to this weekend’s racing at Phoenix, saying almost nothing as he emerged from the meeting. He answered every question by repeating, “Everything’s great.”

Logano initiated a phone conversation with Busch on Tuesday. He said after Friday’s meeting it was good to sit with his former teammate and explain the on-track incident at Las Vegas was “an honest mistake.”

Are the two OK?

“I guess time will tell. We’ll see,” Logano said. “I hope he’s able to see that and know that I was sincere about it but time will tell.”

The two were racing for position Sunday at Las Vegas and Busch spun because of Logano’s hard racing. Busch stormed down pit road and threw a punch at Logano before crews intervened. Team Penske was not penalized for tackling Busch to the ground, even though Busch sustained a gash to his forehead in the scrum.

Logano said he has tried to persuade Busch with evidence he says shows he didn’t cause the wreck intentionally on the final lap.

“I really just tried to explain that I made a mistake underneath him,” Logano said. “That’s basically what it was. He asked for some data. I was able to show him that. It was pretty clear in my opinion what happened so that’s that.”

NASCAR senior executive Steve O’Donnell was in the meeting.

“The beginning of it was really to let the drivers talk about what happened, which they did,” he said. “Then we were very clear about our expectations, what we expect going forward.”

NASCAR chose not to penalize either driver for the post-race confrontation.

“It’s an emotional sport,” O’Donnell said. “We still view that as true racing hard for position. If that escalates beyond to something intentional on the race track, we were very clear that we’ll react.”

Busch repeated his “everything’s great” comment to five separate questions, tagging on essentially the same words: “I’m really looking forward to getting back in my race car and being here in Phoenix.”

It was far different from what he said Sunday, when he was led away from the fracas by NASCAR officials as blood from his forehead trickled down his nose.

“I got dumped,” he said then. “He flat out just drove in the corner and wrecked me. That’s how Joey races so he’s going to get it.”
The Busch incident is the latest between Logano and his former Joe Gibbs Racing team.

The Busch vs. Logano subplot adds heat to what already promised to be a sweaty race, with temperatures expected to reach the mid-90s at the track carved into the desert hills southwest of downtown Phoenix.

Kyle Larson, a fast-rising young driver on the NASCAR circuit, was asked if he was surprised that NASCAR didn’t levy any punishment in the incident.

“Our new (title) sponsor, Monster, they’re an edgy brand,” Larson said. “I think what you saw last week was edgy. I don’t know, though. It’s just hard. They used to penalize people for that and now they don’t.”

Don’t expect the diminutive Larson to ever cause this kind of ruckus.

“Look how big I am? I can’t do that,” he said to a room full of laughter. “Joey’s got probably a two-feet longer reach on me, too. I’m not the fighting type. I don’t think I’ve ever been mad enough to want to punch anybody.”

The Logano-Busch meeting came minutes before the two took to the track for practice runs.

They climbed in their cars and gave every indication they will be in the thick of things on Sunday. Logano had the third-fastest car, Busch the sixth.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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