CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Busch holds a 3-0 advantage over Kasey Kahne this season and understands Kahne might be planning some retaliation.
In fact, he jokingly told Kahne he was ready for revenge.
"I just told Kasey don't make it hurt too bad," Busch said.
Nobody knows when — or if — Kahne will issue payback for three incidents this season involving Busch. The latest came last Saturday at Darlington when Kahne spun as the two raced for the lead with 33 laps left.
"Three times this year me and Kyle had contact and I had a chance — capable, winning cars — it's disappointing on the points side and not winning some of these races," Kahne said after the race. "Whether he hit me or just blew the air off, whatever it was, he blew his entry. I'm not sure what he was thinking on that."
Busch shrugged the Darlington incident off as hard racing in the closing laps. But he admitted Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of tonight's Sprint All-Star Race, that incidents with Kahne in the season-opening Daytona 500 and May 5 at Talladega were mistakes on his part.
The Daytona accident triggered a nine-car pileup; the Talladega wreck collected 16 cars.
"The first two instances were a mistake, just misjudgment," Busch said. "Last week was just hard racing. Whether or not we touched, I think that's insignificant because I'm not racing to wreck Kasey Kahne, but Kasey Kahne did crash because of me so it's a part of hard racing at the end of the race, and I hate that it keeps being the same guy."
Busch confirmed he has reached out to Kahne since Darlington, and it led to jokes about retaliation. But he is not convinced it's coming from Kahne, who isn't known to be vengeful.
"I don't think Kasey is that kind of guy," he said. "But if it happens, I'll understand."
Kahne sounded a similar tone Friday when talking to ESPN, saying: "I'm not going to go and take Kyle Busch out, that's not what I'm here for. But we have went down three times. It's tough to say what will happen."
If revenge does happen, tonight is the perfect stage.
The race is an exhibition with a cool $1 million to the winner. With no title implications, any retaliation wouldn't harm Busch's bid for the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kahne's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, didn't understand why the All-Star Race would be the best place for payback.
"What's wrong with the other races?" Earnhardt asked.
Jimmie Johnson has spoken to both drivers and described both their moods as "frustrated" and said he could relate.
"Kasey's come out on the losing end three times," Johnson said of his teammate. "It's not like Kyle has an issue; it's just stuff. I had it with Kurt (Busch) and also Sterling Marlin in 2003-04. It's no fun when it happens and you have a magnet for (another) car."
Once a driver has repeated incidents with another, it can be difficult to stop, Johnson said.
"The way I've been able to break the cycle is you just have to consciously get away," he said. "If it goes to the third time, it's 'Okay, if I see you coming, I'm getting the hell out of the way.' You have to try to make it stop that way."
. Fast facts
Sprint Cup points
After 11 of 36 races. The top 10 in points plus two wild cards after 26 races make the Chase for the Championship.
Driver Pts. Back
Jimmie Johnson 423—
Carl Edwards 379 44
Matt Kenseth 364 59
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 359 64
Clint Bowyer 349 74
Kasey Kahne 326 97
Brad Keselowski 326 97
Kyle Busch 325 98
Aric Almirola 317 106
Kevin Harvick 315 108
Paul Menard 315 108