Kyle Busch handled his Phoenix defeat gracefully on Sunday, even after Jeff Gordon used some rubbing to make the winning pass and deny Busch a three-race weekend sweep.
"I think he was on a mission today, and when Jeff Gordon has a good car and he has the opportunity to beat you, he's going to beat you," Busch said. "There's no doubt about that. He's my hero and I've always watched him and what he's been able to accomplish over the years. It's no surprise that he beat us."
If you don't think that sounds like typical Busch, join the club. But the driver known as "Rowdy" offered plenty of praise for Gordon while good-naturedly noting he barely missed out on repeating the history he achieved at Bristol last summer.
"There's always that one car that's got to ruin the whole weekend," Busch said with a smile, "and it had to be the 24 car."
Perhaps it's because Gordon had a faster car than Busch and would have passed him anyway – even without the nudge that allowed the No. 24 car to take the lead.
"He was gaining on me really good, and I knew he was going to get to me eventually," Busch said. "...He just drifted up a little bit into me and knocked me out of the way.
"But it don't matter. He had a fast enough car. Either way, he (would) have won ... It has nothing to do with how he won."
Busch had bigger problems to worry about than starting a rivalry with Gordon, anyway. He angered Carl Edwards early in the race by trying to a take a spot that didn't belong to him, which triggered a multi-car wreck and damaged Edwards' car.
Though Busch apologized profusely throughout the race, Edwards didn't seem to care. He kept "playing" with Busch by holding him up several times for the rest of the day.
"He was mad, for sure; he was frustrated, definitely," Busch said. "You can see that entirely out there the whole rest of the race. Anytime I got within five car lengths of his rear bumper, he would start checking up early, getting into the corners and slowing down and getting more space between me and the other guys.
"Finally, after about 20 laps of that, he let me go. It was weird. He just he was playing."
Busch said he hoped to speak with Edwards and move beyond the incident, especially given how the two raced one another cleanly in Saturday's Nationwide Series race.
"I made a mistake today – I've admitted that, again and again," Busch said. "Hopefully we can get past this and go on. ... It was just a mistake on my part."