Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Stenhouse Displeased with Busch Following All-Star Tangle

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

An All-Star sized drama escalated very early in the 40th NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, leaving one driver heated and starting a fight on a full moon Sunday night.

On the opening lap of the 200-lap main feature, Kyle Busch was already racing hard to get by both Michael McDowell and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. for 10th position.

However, Busch saw himself being squeezed by Stenhouse and brushed the backstretch wall as a result. Busch was irate over the contact from Stenhouse and made it clear he wasn’t going to accept the ordeal.

It led to Busch targeting the 10th place car of Stenhouse and coming into the exit of Turn 1, he annihilated the No. 47 Kroger Healthy/Icy Hot Chevrolet into the wall, bringing out the first caution of the night.

A cold end didn’t meant things got hot as Stenhouse brought the wounded Chevrolet onto pit road and parked it in Busch’s pit stall. Knowing his chance at a million dollars was over as he made sure nobody was going to forget the 20th place finisher.

Stenhouse exited his car and climbed on top of the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing’s pit box to confront Busch’s crew chief Randall Burnett about the incident. Choice words were told before Stenhouse walked away to make a mandatory visit to the infield care center.

Neither Burnett nor RCR’s Vice President of Competition Andy Petree were fazed about Stenhouse’s issue to Busch wrecking him and went on with their night.

Stenhouse explained that he saw an opening in the middle and went for the gap Busch left when the green flag dropped. Initially, Stenhouse thought it would end up being just a fender bender between Busch and McDowell, but felt Busch didn’t understood the memo.

“We had a really good start. (Kyle) left the door wide open. I went through the middle and I almost had him cleared,” said Stenhouse. “The No. 34 (McDowell) kind of ran up the track, and we all just kind of touched there. Nothing major.

“And then Kyle tried to wreck me in (turns) three and four, and finally did wreck me there in one and two. Our No. 47 Kroger Healthy/Icy Hot Chevy was really fast. I felt really good. We were good in practice. We had already passed two or three cars there, so bummed we couldn’t see it through to the end.”

Without mincing words, Stenhouse will wait to have a conversation with Busch where it can lead to Richard Childress taking action.

“I guess he was mad,” said Stenhouse. “I parked my car in their pit box because I figured he would do something like that. Maybe Richard will hold my watch after the race.”

The reference is a callback to 2011 when Childress got into a physical altercation with Busch after a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway following Busch and Childress’ driver Joey Coulter kept running into each other during the race.

Childress removed his wrist watch and it led to a $150,000 fine when he confronted Busch.

During the second half of the race, Busch would again ruffle some feathers after a bumper tap led to All-Star Open winner Ty Gibbs being turned around. Unlike Stenhouse, Gibbs was able to continue his race.

A man of his word, Stenhouse waited all race to chat with Busch next to the No. 8 hauler where a heated discussion occurred.

After a lengthy discussion, Stenhouse decked the 10th place finisher, leading to a massive brawl where crew members tried protecting their drivers. Parts and tires fell while the media either scurrying out of the way or being caught in the brawl.

Stenhouse tripped over a tire and landed on the ground along with a NASCAR security member. Busch would be grappled by a JTG-Daugherty crew member leading to both members of the No. 8 and No. 47 teams getting involved with a lot of pushing and shoving.

Once cooler heads prevailed, Stenhouse was escorted away to the NASCAR hauler and made more comments after the brawl. Still confused as to why Busch was mad at him on Lap 2.

“I’m not sure why he was so mad. I shoved it three-wide, but he hit the fence and kind of came off the wall and came up to me,” Stenhouse on Busch. “When I was talking to him, he kept saying that I wrecked him. Definitely built up frustration with how he runs his mouth all the time about myself.

“I know he’s frustrated because he’s doesn’t run near as good as he used to, and I understand that. Being stuck doesn’t help the frustration. If there was a tunnel, I’d probably been home watching the end of that.”

Busch declined to share his perspective of the incident as Stenhouse is ready to move forward and prepare for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway next Sunday.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a four-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.