Kyle Busch: Oops, sorry (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)
By Mike Mulhern
Four days after his emotional outburst at losing the Dover 400, Kyle Busch is apologizing to Toyota for his radio rant.
Busch dominated the race and was untouchable, but the final run came down to gas mileage, and Busch needed to stop 10 miles short of the finish for more fuel.
After having several engine problems this season, a mediocre season at best for one of the sport's top drivers, Busch blew up and ripped Toyota's TRD engine department.
For years team owner Joe Gibbs had run his own independent engine department at the Charlotte-area shop. But last year Toyota consolidated engine operations, with NASCAR engines now coming out Toyota's Los Angeles shop.
"I made some remarks, out of frustration, on my radio...that were very misguided," Busch said in a statement released Thursday evening. "I owe my friends at Toyota and TRD an apology.
"We have a great partnership with TRD, and they built me a motor that helped me lead over 300 laps and nearly lap the field. It's just frustrating that the caution fell where it did and suddenly it became a fuel mileage race, and we were set up for maximum horsepower.
"Obviously that worked well for most of the day. And you can't control when the cautions will fall."
Toyota's racing boss Lee White said that while he understood Busch's frustration, "we were disappointed with Kyle's post-race comments.
"Kyle's had a frustrating year with several car and engine mechanical failures which were not his responsibility, and we're working extremely hard on our end to improve our products and processes. We will continue to address these issues, but we're ready to put this behind us and move forward."
Toyota, which joined the Sprint Cup tour in 2007, has yet to win its first championship, but Denny Hamlin, Busch's teammate, has an excellent shot at the title this fall.
Gibbs, offering no explanation for why it took so long for his driver to issue the obviously de rigueur apology, conceded "It has been a frustrating season for Kyle in many ways, when you think about some of the issues we've had with that team this year... and obviously some of those frustrations carried over to his finish last week in Dover.
"Certainly you can understand the frustration.
"However Kyle recognizes that his comments and the tone of his comments were misguided."
The incident clearly went beyond Toyota's racing operations, with Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, communications and motorsports, chiming in: "We've had a fabulous relationship with Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing over the last five years. Kyle is a talented driver who wins races and can compete for championships, and he is a very important part of the Toyota brand. We look forward to a long-term relationship with Kyle and Joe Gibbs Racing for years to come."
Busch's driving contract is up at the end of next season, and Gibbs has been hoping to renew it before 2013 opens. It is unclear if this latest outburst by the volatile racer could affect that situation.