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Newman and I were friends. We were great teammates, and he needs to check his trophy case on the Daytona 500 trophy that I helped him get years ago,” Busch said. “We’ve always been great friends. There was no need for his comments afterward.”

So then why would Newman say such things?

“I think we are both looking at the same scenario coming up here in the next few summer months,” Busch said.

He may be on to something.

Neither driver currently has a job lined up for next season. Newman is in the final year of his contract at Stewart-Haas Racing, and although team co-owner Tony Stewart said this week he’s interested in signing Newman to an extension, there’s no current deal.

Busch, meanwhile, is riding out the season with Phoenix Racing. He landed with the underfunded team after splitting with Penske in December following an angry tirade toward an ESPN reporter in last season’s finale.

Those past situations made Busch an easy target for Newman’s post-Darlington critique.

“It’s easy to see and it’s easy to say that Kurt blew a fuse again,” Newman told after the race. “I’m not sure why he did it and tried to run over our guys and NASCAR officials. And nobody is … (Busch was) so frustrated that he doesn’t know how to deal with his anger.”

Busch is struggling to overcome that reputation, which took another hit during last November’s finale. His in-car camera caught him making an obscene gesture, and fan recorded him delivering a profanity-laced tirade toward an ESPN reporter in the garage.

NASCAR fined Busch $50,000 for his behavior, and his split with Penske was announced shortly after.

“I’ve been fined the most probably of any driver, and I’ve probably paid it out of my pocket more than any driver,” Busch said Friday. “Is my strike zone bigger than others? Yeah. It might be bigger than others, but I don’t have a problem with it.”