Aric Almirola vows to make Kyle Busch’s playoff run ‘hell’ after Martinsville crash
The animosity between them dates back to an incident at the half-mile back in March.
If words have meaning, Aric Almirola will not make it easy for Kyle Busch to race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for a fifth consecutive season.
The Stewart-Haas Racing veteran vowed retaliation against his Joe Gibbs Racing counterpart over an incident that happened on Lap 363 of Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Almirola was racing Busch for a spot inside the top-10 when the two came together off Turn 4, triggering a multi-car incident that also included Ryan Preece and Jimmie Johnson, the rest of the field swerving left and right to avoid the melee.
While Busch was able to continue on to a 14th place result, Almirola was eliminated from contention, leading to his vow of vengeance.
“He chopped me getting down into (Turn) 3,” Almirola told NBCSN upon leaving the infield care center. “I tried to squeeze in front of him in the spring (race) on one of the restarts and he about wrecked me in Turn 3. It was returned to him and he didn’t like it. He ran me over the curb and we got together, and ruined our day.”
This was a race Almirola thought could translate into a top-five.
“Frustrated,” he said. “We’ve got three more weeks, and I’m going to make it hell for him.”
For his part, Busch offered very little in terms of reaction.
“He ran over me, so I chopped him and we got stuck together,” the 2015 champion said.
Is Busch worried about the 19-race winless streak that has developed since opening the year with four wins in the first 14 events?
What specifically is he worried about?
Based on Martinsville, perhaps there is one more thing for Busch to keep tabs on. Busch enters the second race of the final three-race round in third-place and just 17 points above the cutline with Texas and Phoenix remaining to decide the Championship 4.