Updated: October 24, 2011, 1:05 PM ET

Kyle Busch just racing hard for a championship

Newton By David Newton

Kyle BuschChris Graythen/Getty ImagesKyle Busch, left, finished second at Charlotte after holding off points leader Carl Edwards, right.

You can debate whether IndyCar Series drivers were racing each other too hard early in Sunday's season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, resulting in a horrific crash that took the life of Dan Wheldon.

There should be no debate on whether Kyle Busch raced points leader Carl Edwards too hard in the final laps of Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Edwards said he thinks there should be. He immediately went to Busch's car on pit road while Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth celebrated the victory and expressed his displeasure with Busch for coming across the nose of his car in Turn 3 as the two battled for second.

"I just let him know that next time that happens, I'll just stay where I'm at and he can drive across my hood and wreck himself," Edwards said.

One could understand Edwards' complaint more had it been early in the race, as was the case at Las Vegas, where hard racing on Lap 11 turned into a 15-car melee that tragically sent Wheldon's car airborne into the catch-fence.

But what happened with Edwards and Busch was at the end of the race, between two drivers racing for a championship. They're supposed to fight tooth and nail for every position within reason, and it appeared Busch was well within reason.

"Certainly it's a tight race and Carl got a good run through the turn and got up to my left rear quarter panel, and typically that gets you a little loose," Busch said. "My car got loose and it started moving out a little bit, and I just held the wheel straight and it was essentially staying ... steering almost downhill.

"It did not get sideways like really loose, loose, that I about wrecked. It just started steering and kind of free-wheeling, so I just let it go. I ran him a little tight."

By racing him "tight," Busch side-drafted on Edwards' car to keep the RFR driver beside him and "give me another chance of redeeming myself going through 3 and 4 and getting back by him."

It worked. Busch held on for second to move within 18 points of Edwards with five races remaining, the first time he has been a championship contender this late in the season.

"There was no malicious intent involved to cause anything or to hurt his chances at finishing second or anything," Busch said.

Edwards still disagreed as he discussed the incident in the media center sitting at the opposite end of a table from Busch.

"There's a difference between racing hard and just cutting across the guy's nose," said Edwards, who has a five-point lead over Kevin Harvick. "What I told Kyle is I just wondered why coming off of Turn 2, when I got underneath him, he drove down instead of going up to the wall like we'd normally do."

It wasn't much different than the incident with 18 laps remaining that seriously damaged Jimmie Johnson's shot at winning a sixth straight championship.

Johnson and Ryan Newman were racing each other hard at about the same spot when Johnson came up on the track, got a little squirrely and slammed hard into the wall. He finished 34th to fall 35 points behind Edwards.

But instead of complaining that Newman raced him too hard, Johnson said it was his own fault. OK, he almost complained on Twitter, writing soon after the race, "Wow, that impact was huge . ... I'm alright, just with the 39 ..."

He didn't finish.

Edwards would have been better off not saying anything to Busch or reporters. Fans pay to watch drivers race hard, particularly at the end of a race with title implications, particularly in cars that are safer than ever, as we saw when Johnson walked away only slightly shaken up.

That doesn't mean they should race like lunatics early in this week's race at Talladega Superspeedway. They should show some restraint.

There's no debating that.

David Newton column | Racing Live! rewind | Recap | Results

Nationwide Series: Edwards gives Busch run for money

Kyle Busch gets a lot of grief for winning a lot outside the Cup series, but Carl Edwards is just as guilty.

The RFR driver won his eighth of the season and 37th of his career Saturday night at CMS. That's a winning percentage of 15.3, which is almost as impressive as Busch's 22.9.

Should Busch, with 51 wins, give up Nationwide next season -- which he's not -- it's not beyond imagination to think Edwards couldn't catch and pass him as the series' all-time winner.

Do the math. If Edwards were to win eight Nationwide races in each of the next two seasons, he would be at 53.

That isn't likely to happen. Edwards already has told RFR officials he doesn't plan to run many Nationwide races in 2012.

"Carl has told us he wants to take a break from the series and spend more time with his wife and kids," RFR president Steve Newmark said. "Whether that means he'll do zero races, four, six ... we'll have to sit down and talk to him about that."

That's good news for all of you who don't like Cup drivers crashing the Nationwide party.

That's also good news for RFR drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the current points leader, and Trevor Bayne. With sponsorship dollars scarce, any races Edwards runs next season might mean fewer for what Newmark calls the future drivers of the organization.

Recap | Results

Camping World Truck Series: Hornaday for hire

The good news for four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. is he won his second straight race on Saturday at Las Vegas to climb into the championship picture.

The bad news is he still doesn't have a ride for next season.

With Kevin Harvick Inc. shutting down after this season, Hornaday's career could be near an end prematurely. There's not much of a market for a 53-year-old driver, even one as good as Hornaday.

He's now won three of the past five races and four overall to move within 21 points of Austin Dillon. The grandson of team owner Richard Childress, Dillon has a ride in the Nationwide Series next season. He also is set to drive in a few Cup races.

Hornaday? He has a great résumé with 51 wins and four titles, which is good news. He just doesn't have a ride, which is bad.

Recap | Results

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DNewtonespn.


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