Busch's Behavior Detracts from His Talent
I'm Andy Cagle, writer of the Friday NASCAR column, and Kyle Busch is a jerk.
Sorry to paraphrase from Brad Keselowski there (Keselowski was referring to what he sits on), but I think it bears repeating for no other reason than that was the best driver introduction in the history of NASCAR.
Kyle Busch may be what Keselowski characterized him as. He may be arrogant. He may be brash. He may be a hot head. He may be a brat. At some point in his career, I am sure I have called him all of those things and more, but there is one that you cannot deny him despite his arrogance or brashness or brattiness or his likeness to a certain part of the body: The boy can flat out drive a race car (or truck).
Just look at the career stats - 19 NASCAR Cup wins, 19 Truck Series wins and 40 Nationwide Series wins. That's 78 wins in NASCAR's three national touring series. Oh yeah, he's only 25. His 40 Nationwide wins rank him behind only Mark Martin (48 wins) on that series all-time wins list.
Busch's latest feat came last week at Bristol where he became the first driver to sweep all three races in the Trucks, Nationwide and Cup in a single weekend. Given there aren't all that many chances to do that, it's still a pretty amazing feat. Bristol is not an easy or very forgiving track. It's pretty hard to win one race on the high-banked half-mile, much less three.
Busch started his week off at Bristol on Wednesday winning the Camping World Truck Series race. Then, on Friday night, it all got a little interesting. He and Keselowski started doing a little beating and banging on each other that culminated with Busch intentionally spinning Keselowski with 31 laps to go. It was this move that prompted Keselowski's colorful driver introduction. Busch then went on to dominate the second half of the Cup race to sweep the weekend.
But the whole weekend situation highlights the duality of the younger racing Busch - extremely talented while extremely polarizing and prone to bouts of, well, acting like a jerk.
His fans like him because he is brash and doesn't mind putting people in the wall. I'm all for it - rubbin' is racin' and all that good stuff. But there is a difference between Busch and guys like Dale Earnhardt and even Jimmie Johnson. Those two guys won multiple championships because they were smart enough - and mature enough - to not let their emotions get the better of them.
If Dale Earnhardt wrecked somebody, it was to win a race, not because he was pissed off at that driver. Well, he may have been angry that someone was in front of him, but that's a whole other story.
If Jimmie Johnson has a bad race, you don't see him pouting and sulking about it and running back to the hauler declining interviews and acting all whiny about it. In other words, they are professionals about what it is that they do. Just look at last year's collapse - missing the Chase after winning four races (tied for third-most behind Johnson's seven and Mark Martin's five).
Sure he's only 25 and has a lot of growing up to do and is probably more talented than damn near every driver in Cup history, but until he can learn to, well, not act like a jerk he won't join the ranks of Cup champions and Keselowski will be proven right.
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