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Kyle Busch, David Reutimann carry NASCAR feud to Fontana

Kyle Busch criticizes Reutimann for damaging his car and his chances in earlier NASCAR races, but Reutimann remains unapologetic.

October 08, 2010|By Jim Peltz

The feud between NASCAR drivers Kyle Busch and David Reutimann continued to simmer Friday as they prepared for Sunday's Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

Reutimann banged his car into Busch's at high speed during last weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in retaliation for Busch bumping him earlier in the race. The latter incident so damaged Busch's car that he finished 21st.

That was a significant blow to Busch because he's among the 12 drivers trying to win the series championship in NASCAR's 10-race Chase for the Cup title playoff, the fourth of which is Sunday.

Reutimann was unrepentant, saying earlier this week that he was tired of being bumped around and needed to stand his ground.

But Busch criticized Reutimann's actions and told reporters Friday that "we've got way too much catching up to do versus where we could have been" in the Chase. "We have to step it up [Sunday] and we have to win or finish second or third," Busch said.

Busch then went out and qualified 16th for Sunday's race, and Jamie McMurray won the pole position with a lap of 185.285 mph around the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval. Reutimann qualified 23rd. Chase leader Jimmie Johnson, seeking a record fifth consecutive title, qualified eighth.

Busch, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, is seventh in the Chase, 80 points behind Johnson. Reutimann, who like Busch drives a Toyota but for Michael Waltrip Racing, is 18th in the standings and did not qualify for the Chase.

The Busch-Reutimann flap resurrected two debates in NASCAR. One involves the wisdom of NASCAR's decision this year to give the drivers more rein in settling disputes themselves on the track — the so-called "boys, have at it" philosophy — and indeed Busch said NASCAR had not spoken to him about the incidents at Kansas.

"If a guy feels like he was taken out, then I fully expect that they'll come back to get you," said four-time champion Jeff Gordon, who's currently fifth in the Chase. "That's just part of racing."

The other debate concerns whether non-Chase drivers should give the title contenders extra room on the track, but Gordon said no driver can expect preferential treatment.

"You should not go into the Chase expecting guys who aren't in the Chase to give you any extra leeway, that's not the way it works," he said. "You're racing against everybody out there."

Keselowski crown?

Busch this year also has won a record 11 races in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series. But Brad Keselowski, another driver who splits his time between the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series, is poised to win the Nationwide championship.

Keselowski leads by 374 points over Carl Edwards heading into Saturday's Nationwide race, the CampingWorld.com 300, at Auto Club Speedway.

Keselowski also leads Busch by 500 points in the standings because Keselowski has competed in all 29 races this season, while Busch — the reigning Nationwide champion — has raced in only 24.

If Keselowski wins the crown, it not only would be his first title but also the first NASCAR championship for team owner Roger Penske, who built Auto Club Speedway in the mid-1990s.

"It would be an honor to be able to do that" for himself and Penske, Keselowski said.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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