Kyle Busch made his first-ever Camping World Truck Series start on a road course on March 26. He led a race-high 31 laps during the XPEL 225 at Circuit of the Americas and appeared to be on tap for his first win of the year, but a stunning incident featuring Stewart Friesen and Alex Bowman dropped him to third overall.
The incident occurred entering Turn 11. Busch had the lead, but Bowman and Friesen both dove to the inside. The three trucks collided in the middle of the turn while Zane Smith navigated around them to take the lead. He raced to the checkered flag while Busch ultimately battled John Hunter Nemechek for second. Friesen finished ninth while Bowman dropped to 25th due to damage on the right front cutting a tire on the No. 7 Spire Motorsports entry.
“Just a great race all day,” Busch told FOX Sports’ Josh Sims after the race. “Really appreciate KBM and all the guys, all the hard work, everybody there that does a great job building fast trucks. Felt like we deserved that one, but it doesn’t matter if you deserve it or not. It’s all a matter of whether or not you get it. You’ve got to be the first one to the checkered flag to win these things, and we just weren’t.”
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Bowman & Busch Had a Conversation After the Race
Bowman and Busch had differing opinions about the incident that took them both out of contention for the win. For example, the Hendrick Motorsports driver tweeted after the race that Friesen had “just turned left when I was inside of him and put us at an angle” where they would not make the corner.
The two Cup Series drivers had a brief conversation on pit road about the three-truck contact. There was no close-up video or audio captured during the interaction, but The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck provided some insight. He said that Busch thought that both Bowman and Friesen had blown the corner, which made the driver-owner “pretty miffed.” NASCAR also provided a quick glimpse at the interaction in which Bowman apologized.
The two drivers will likely continue to view the outcome of the race very differently, and they will certainly become a topic of conversation for Mike Joy, Clint Bowyer, and Tony Stewart during the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix Cup Series race. Though they will be racing for playoff points during the Cup Series race instead of simply hunting trophies.
Friesen Had Strong Words About Bowman’s Decision
While Bowman and Busch had a conversation with each other after the race, the third driver involved made some strong comments. He spoke to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass after the race and criticized the decisions made by the seven-time Cup Series winner.
“I got under Kyle. I think we were all pretty close on fuel,” Friesen told Pockrass. “I got under Kyle, and then Bowman just cleared both of us out. I really didn’t expect that. He went in from probably three car lengths to too deep with no shot and wiped us out.”
Along with his comments about the incident that dropped him to the back of the top 10, Friesen also took some shots at the state of the Camping World Truck Series races. He repeatedly used “demolition derby” to describe the style of racing at the end of the events and said that the trucks just “pile up” when the officials throw the green and white checkered flag.
The contact took a potential trophy away from Busch and Bowman, but it put Friesen in a worse situation. With a win, he could have punched his ticket to the playoffs and joined Chandler Smith and Zane Smith. Instead, he only walked away with 41 points. He is third overall in the championship standings, but he still sits in a tenuous situation considering that a stretch of bad performances could knock him out of the playoff picture.