- Associated Press - Saturday, May 12, 2012

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) - Time has not smoothed things over between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

The two Sprint Cup stars stole the show at the Southern 500 last year with their post-race dustup on the way to the garage after Regan Smith’s victory at the track “Too Tough To Tame.” Harvick was angered with Busch’s tactics late in the race when both were contending for the checkered flag.

Busch, Harvick and Clint Bowyer were three-wide on the narrow track during a late restart when all were trying to chase down Smith. Bowyer went sprawling into the interior wall after contact. As cars spun out behind, Busch gathered his machine, then veered down the track and sent Harvick spinning.

Smith held on through a green-white-checkered finish for his first Sprint Cup victory. But the real drama was unfolding on pit road as Busch and Harvick drove from the track. Busch was up against Harvick’s back bumper when Harvick jumped out and rushed toward Busch’s window where it looked like he took a swing at Busch.

Busch bumped Harvick’s driverless car into the interior wall and headed into the garage. Both were called into the NASCAR hauler and each left composed _ although with different versions of what happened.

Busch said Harvick engaged in “unacceptable racing.”

“I gave him room off of two, I didn’t get the room,” Busch said.

Harvick said he was running hard and “things happen. That’s it. What do you do?”

Busch and Harvick were both fined $25,000 and placed on probation by NASCAR after the Darlington tussle.

The two said they hadn’t talked about what happened last year. “I tend to be able to let things go and forget about things while others tend to keep dwelling and keep bringing them back up,” Busch said.

That includes Darlington Raceway leaders, who used the incident as part of its promotional campaign. The track urged fans not to miss round two between “Hitman” Harvick and “Rowdy Busch.” Billboards, radio spots and Internet ads saturated the market with another potential tangle.

Harvick understood why the track used the incident to attract fans. He said he hasn’t spent too much time worrying about it. “I don’t talk about Kyle or to Kyle,” Harvick said.


OLD DARLINGTON?: Is Darlington Raceway again “Too Tough To Tame?” Four years after a major repaving project, it seems the old, gnarly, tire-chewing surface is back rearing its ugly head for Sprint Cup’s top racers.

Howard Comstock with SRT Motorsports Engineering said there were “Darlington stripes” on nearly every car you looked at during Friday’s practice. “They tried to pave (tire wear) out of the racetrack when they did the repave in 2008, but it’s back,” Comstock said.

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