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NASCAR’s Kurt Busch keeps cool after getting wrecked at Daytona

This could wind up being an error in judgment (on my part), but Kurt Busch seems to have turned a page in NASCAR comportment. His emotional engine isn’t running quite so hot.

Yes, he was upset that Joey Logano tried to “drive right through him” on the last lap of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona over Fourth of July weekend. Busch was running third (behind winner Brad Keselowski and his brother, Kyle Busch) and had an excellent shot at his second victory of 2016.

Kurt Busch got bumped from behind by Logano and spun out. Instead of a potential win, he was credited with 23rd place. He dropped from second to third in season points.

But did you see how he held it together during the postrace interview? Busch was calm, Busch was cool, Bush was collected. Not a single F-bomb or F-bottle rocket or even an F-firecracker. Perhaps all those anger management courses finally are sinking in.

“You can’t drive other people’s cars for them,” he said of Logano’s error in judgment. “I think that he made an aggressive mistake. You can’t go from fifth to first. It’s a shame we ended up spun around and wrecked. We could have come out of here with the points lead.”

Busch was matter-of-fact about it, and though he must have been exasperated, you couldn’t hear it in his voice. Just the week before, in a truck series race, John Wes Townley and Spencer Gallagher of Las Vegas had gotten into a fistfight (sort of) after a similar run-in, although a win wasn’t at stake — and although it was only a truck series race.

Logano took responsibility for spinning out Busch and apologized. By then, the Las Vegas driver was posting messages on his Twitter account using emojis.

He said his race turned out like a smiling brown pile emoji after he was so close to the checkered flag emoji. Then he said he was going to catch an airplane emoji, and a two-beer emoji, and a unicorn emoji.

I think the unicorn emoji might have had something to do with his girlfriend, Ashley Van Metre, who plays polo.

GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED

• But only one Busch brother was on his best behavior at the Daytona. This is what Kyle Busch said on his in-car radio — in reference to a Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, no less — after Denny Hamlin made a move that left Busch hung out in a three-wide situation. “Gold star for the No. 11 (Hamlin). Way to go, you (expletive). It would be nice if the (expletive) Gibbs cars, instead of running up front, can work together like the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the No. 22 (Joey Logano). They look pretty good together.” At least Kyle Busch didn’t fire off any middle-finger emojis on Twitter.

• In perusing the points leaders at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it appears the Bullring has more divisions than the U.S. Infantry and U.S. Airborne combined. There are 12. Here they are, and their leaders, heading into the prolonged seven-week break from the summertime heat: NASCAR Super Late Models (Justin Johnson); NASCAR Super Stocks (Don Sargent); NASCAR Bombers (Sam Jacks); NASCAR Grand American Modifieds (Vinny Raucci Jr.); USLCI Legend Cars Pro (Cameron Morga); USLCI Legend Cars Masters (Michael Todd Glazier); USLCI Legend Cars Semi-Pro (Brian Williams); USLCI Legend Cars Young Lions (Dezel East); USLCI Thunder Cars (Travis Boyle); USLCI Bandolero Outlaws (Camden Larsen); USLCI Bandolero Bandits (R.J. Smotherman); Skid Plate Cars (Robert Smotherman).

• You know how people sometimes say auto racing isn’t brain surgery? Well, that’s not always the case. Joe Gibbs Racing development and part-time Xfinity Series driver Matt Tifft had brain surgery July 1 to have a benign tumor removed. Tifft, a 20-year-old Virginian, said he’s not sure how long he’ll be out — a lot more will be known after follow-up treatment is prescribed after the tumor is tested. For now, he’s taking steroids to control swelling. “It takes a lot out of your body and makes you kind of nauseous,” Tifft told co-hosts Jim Noble and Chocolate Myers on SiriusXM Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” show.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. His motor sports notebook runs Friday. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski

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