If anyone doubted whether anger was a great motivator, look no further than Kyle Busch. Prior to winning the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Busch fielded questions from reporters, including one about Corey LaJoie, who recently admitted on his Stackin’ Pennies podcast that he intentionally made contact with Busch at Martinsville the previous weekend.
That, friends, is generally a “no-no,” as far as NASCAR is concerned – just look at what happened when Denny Hamlin blabbed about fencing Ross Chastain. The league hammered No. 11 with a fine and points penalty, but it was not so much about the racing act at the time of the incident, it’s that he publicized his intentions after the fact. Maybe No. 7 was absent that day in class, but Busch surely was not.
Aware of LaJoie’s comments, Busch’s transformation into Rowdy was primed to begin.
“He [LaJoie] has been a pain in the d--k to race with and pass for years, just coming up and lapping him and things like that,” Busch explained to reporters prior to the race. “Every time I’m around him, it’s like he tries an extra 20 percent harder to make sure I stay behind him.”
When pressed about his incident with Spire Motorsports’ driver during the NOCO 400 at Martinsville, Busch outlined his version of events.
“He was fading, I was not that great, but I was just that much better than he was, and he was running the top lane which was my lane, and I tried to go to the bottom a couple of times, and my car would not run the bottom,” Busch said. “I could not accelerate out of turns without getting loose, and I kept getting loose, and just barely nudging him and touching him a bit, coming out of the corners.”
“Then, he slammed down into me down the front stretch and admitted it on his podcast that he wanted to crash me and create a yellow and didn’t get penalized even though Denny Hamlin did,” Busch added. “Again, our [the league] inconsistency with consistency or the other way around is impeccable.”
On his podcast, LaJoie offered up his take on the contact:
“The underlying motive for everybody, and that’s kind of what got my frustration with Kyle Busch when we started to door-smash each other,” LaJoie said, according to Sportscasting. “You get in those positions where, if you’re needing a yellow, and you’re needing to pit, you’re looking to wreck somebody. That’s what you get because you can’t afford to come down pit road and get stuck by a caution.
“I’m bleeding. I went from like 15th to 19th, 20th. My rear tires are blown off of it. Kyle’s going backwards too so he was frustrated but he drove into my left rear three different times off the corner. Boom! Like looking to cut my tire down. Maybe he wasn’t but after three times.
“Once. OK. Two, alright dude. Three. OK motherf---er. Come off Turn 4 the next time and he drove in there again. Four times. It was like over the span of six laps just driving in. So he gets to my door and I just yank a left.”
Revenge Mode: Denny Hamlin Reveals Why Contact With Ross Chastain 'Wasn't A Mistake'
When Hamlin admitted on his own podcast to intentionally walling Chastain earlier this season at Phoenix, the league slapped him with a $50,000 fine and a 25-point penalty. It's not clear yet if LaJoie will face any discipline related to his run-in with Busch.
Either way, don’t young guns know not to poke the bear? That’s an all-too common mistake that happens in all sports, from NASCAR to the NBA – just look at what’s happened to Dillon Brooks on the Memphis Grizzlies after he called LeBron James old. The King answered the bell, and now the Los Angeles Lakers are up 3-1 in a contentious playoff series. Like Brooks, LaJoie set Busch up to get the last laugh, and for Rowdy, who’s already having a stellar season, as the sun set over Talladega Superspeedway, there could’ve been no reward quite as sweet as hoisting the winner's trophy.