Two Of A Kind

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NASCAR was built upon rivalries. And while the current feud between Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch may not rank with Waltrip-Allison or Earnhardt-Gordon - yet - it's still a pretty good one to watch.

Although Stewart and Busch aren't seeing eye-to-eye these days, deep down they're very much alike. They both want to win every week - and aren't afraid to drive aggressively to accomplish that goal.

Things got off to bad start for the duo at Daytona, first in the Budweiser Shootout and then in the Daytona 500. The bad blood boiled over long after "Speedweeks" ended before Stewart and Busch sat down and talked things over.

Apparently someone didn't take notes at the meeting.

The pair got into it again last week in Las Vegas, a tangle that escalated into a full blown war complete with Stewart waving his fist out his window at Busch. Stewart's day was finally ended when the damage caused by the duo's contact caused a tire rub which sent Stewart home with a 21st place finish.

"With 80 laps to go we're sitting there for 15 to 20 laps behind him trying to get by and he's holding us up for no reason," Stewart complained. "There's just an etiquette. I'm frustrated with it and I honestly think I have every right to be."

Busch, not surprisingly, doesn't see it that way at all.

"I guess we have to have one of our little chit-chats again," said Busch.

"With about 40 laps to go, it's time to race and time to get after it and that's what I was doing. "If I did something and aggravated Stewart, well, I'm sorry."

"If I slipped up and slid in front of him one time or whatever, it was my mistake. But all I can do is go out there and drive my race car to the best of my ability and to the best it's capable of doing for me. And that's what happened today."

Stewart hasn't been the only driver openly critical of Busch's aggressive nature. But he's been the most vocal.

Busch has had the finger pointed at him since his Busch Series days, but hasn't backed down from the criticism.

Gaining respect in NASCAR racing isn't the easiest thing to do, especially when you're a brash, albeit talented, driver like Busch. But it's not impossible.

NEXTEL Cup rookie Denny Hamlin drew raves from a batch of veterans after his performance in the Budweiser Shootout and Daytona 500.

"Denny Hamlin showed me something today," Stewart said after the rookie's Shootout victory.

But don't expect Busch to be changing his nature anytime soon. At this point, at least, he's not apologizing for anything.

"The race track is not only theirs, but it's mine too," Busch said. "That's the only thing that I'd like to try to gain a little respect on."

With the high-speed Atlanta Motor Speedway next on the schedule, don't look for any payback between the two this weekend. But with Bristol looming on the schedule in just two weeks.....





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