INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kurt Busch has an excuse for why he and Jimmie Johnson haven’t patched things up after a dustup at Chicago two weeks ago: bad cell service.

Busch said Friday he simply hasn’t had a chance to respond to a text message from Johnson offering to talk after a late-race clash between the two NASCAR stars sent Busch to a 17th-place finish at Chicago and left him fuming.

Johnson sent the missive in hopes of airing things out. Two weeks later the three-time defending series champion was still waiting for Busch to hit reply, a fact Busch chalked up to a busy schedule.

“I did get a text message and again that was the night of (the race) and I was at the Chicago Cubs game the next day, tire testing, (and we) went to the Outer Banks and didn’t have any cell phone service so I don’t know how much I really need to explain,” Busch said.

Instead, Busch plans on listening — at some point — to Johnson’s explanation of what happened in the final laps at Chicago.

Johnson was leading in the late stages before being passed by Denny Hamlin and suddenly finding himself racing three-wide with Busch and Jeff Gordon.

Gordon appeared to get under Johnson, and the three-time defending Cup champion’s No. 48 Chevrolet got loose and made contact with Busch.

Angry at the contact, Busch appeared to deliberately turn into Johnson. Their cars connected and while Johnson was able to salvage eighth place behind winner Mark Martin, Busch faded to the middle of the pack.

Afterward Busch said he was losing faith in Johnson’s “ability to be a three-time champion on the track.”

Looking back, Busch admitted he may have overreacted.

“I felt like Chicago was definitely a heat of the moment situation,” he said.

Busch hoped to run into Johnson in the garage area on Friday following practice for Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Don’t expect any fireworks whenever they get together.

“We’ll work on it, shake hands and laugh about it,” Busch said.

The former champion downplayed the idea of developing an ongoing feud with Johnson. There’s too much at stake to be settling scores.

While both are all but assured of a spot in the chase for the championship — Johnson is third in points, Busch is fourth — they’re not going to waste their cushion playing bumper cars.

“I don’t think it’s that big a deal where we need to worry about it,” Busch said.

Yet Chicago wasn’t the first time this year Johnson found himself reaching out to Busch to clear things up.

The two got together at the end of the race in Sonoma in June, when an error by Johnson ended up spinning Busch out, sending Busch tumbling to 15th while Johnson raced to fourth.

Johnson took the blame for that one. Chicago? Not so much.

“I got loose and it was a racing thing,” Johnson said. “There was nothing intentional about it.”

Maybe, but the recent flare ups between two of the sport’s more accomplished stars has raised a few eyebrows.

“They seem to have a magnet right now, they find each other and create a little tension there,” said former driver turned TV commentator Dale Jarrett. “They need to put that aside.”

Johnson, for one, is eager to move on and focus on becoming the first driver in NASCAR history to win four straight points titles.

His preparation for the chase to the chase has already begun. Johnson got reacquainted with his razor on Thursday, shaving off the stubble he’s worn all year because he feared it would itch too much in the summer heat.

Johnson is hoping his recent problems with Busch can disappear too.

“It can continue on or it can end,” Johnson said. “We’ll find out.”


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