Kyle Busch calls out drivers with underfunded teams after troubles at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Kyle Busch battled from two laps down to get back on the lead lap and toward the front during the South Point Casino 400, the first race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Sunday evening at his home track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But late-race contact attempting to get around the car of Gray Gaulding resulted in Busch falling back off the lead lap and finishing 19th. Gaulding finished 12 laps down in the 35th position.
After the race, Busch criticized "back markers," drivers/cars that are underfunded and regularly race in the back.
“We’re at the top echelon of motorsports, and we’ve got guys who have never won Late Model races running on the racetrack,” Busch told NBC Sports. “It’s pathetic. They don’t know where to go. What else do you do?”
Gaulding and other drivers with underfunded teams took offense to Busch's remark.
“He’s never been in the position we’ve been in, so he doesn’t know how that goes,” Smithley said, according to a tweet from NASCAR.com's Zack Albert (@Zack_Albert). “That the way I see it.”
Albert also tweeted a quote from another back marker with an underfunded team -- Joey Gase.
“Any days he [Busch] wants to switch cars, I’d be happy to,” Gase said.
Busch responded by suggesting drivers like Gase and Smithley are in control of their own racing destinies and would be with better teams if they raced better.
“Top tier drivers get hired by top tier teams,” Busch (@KyleBusch) tweeted. “Try winning. . . a lot. . . and u have a better shot of getting hired.”
Smithley insisted, though, that he didn't win races at lower levels, either, because he also was in underfunded cars at those levels.
“Hey everyone, I figured given the events of the race Sunday I would quickly tell my story and defend myself (and the sport for that matter),” Smithley [@GarrettSmithley] tweeted Monday. "Starting tomorrow, we’re focused on Richmond!
“I didn’t grow up in a racing family, and we certainly didn’t have the funds to race. The only race car my parents ever bought was a used Bandolaro race car when I was 15. I didn’t think I had a chance starting that late. We won enough that a local golf cart shop owner sponsored me and bought me a Legends car. I raced Legends cars in the southeast and won more races & championships.
“When I decided to move to Charlotte to pursue a career as a professional driver there is no doubt I had to basically give up the chance to win races in order to ‘fund’ getting the opportunity to race.
“You see, I am one of only a handful of drivers that actually has never spent any of my own money to race. So spending money to go win in a late model was never an option, because the only way I can afford to race is if someone else pays for it. Companies & sponsors have a hard time justifying money to run a competitive late model or even truck, when for the same or often much less they can sponsor a NXS or Cup car. The truth is for many of these companies, they know unless they spend the money it takes to sponsor someone like Kyle, they more than likely will not get the marketing value to justify that spend. However, they can justify a spend to be involved in the ‘big show’ to entertain guest(s), etc., for much, much less. The sponsors you see on my cars, Victory Lane Quick Oil Change, Trophy Tractor, FAME … they are real companies supporting NASCAR, and seeing the value of its 65+ million fans. I sell my own sponsorship to afford me the opportunity to do this.
“So about last night …
“1. I am not mad at Kyle and I get his frustration. I wish that situation would’ve turned out differently but what happened happened.
“2. Nobody that is considered ‘in the way’ wants to be. We are simply doing the best we can.
“3. Even though sometimes we ALL feel like this ‘sucks’ so bad or why won’t NASCAR ‘fix’ it, we have to remember, it’s not that easy. NASCAR is making positive changes but this is a multi-billion-dollar industry. It all takes time.
“4. I do think I can be competitive in the right equipment and I will even go a step further and say, with time and equal funding my teams with Rick Ware Racing, Johnny Davis Motorsports can be competitive too.
“5. As my friend Ross would say, ‘The Sun will come up in the morning!
“Thanks for all the support – Garrett.”
Smithley also tweeted a video of himself being passed cleanly by Alex Bowman and William Byron and pointed out that he showed Busch the same courtesy as Bowman and Byron by holding his line.
Another Cup Series driver, Corey LaJoie, joined in the debate via Twitter. While he agreed with Busch that there was a lack of on-track awareness problem, he also noted that Busch wouldn't perform well in Smithley's car, either.
“You can put Jesus Christ in the 52, and he’s not cracking the top 30 if nobody wrecks,” LaJoie [@CoreyLaJoie] tweeted.