The Frontstretch: Kyle Busch Can't Run From Himself At Darlington by Bryan Davis Keith -- Monday May 9, 2011

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Kyle Busch Can't Run From Himself At Darlington

Bryan Davis Keith · Monday May 9, 2011


So here’s a question for Darrell Waltrip and Co.

Where, exactly, was the “new” Kyle Busch? Did he have this weekend off? Because he sure as hell wasn’t in Darlington, South Carolina. Because whoever was wheeling the No. 18 Toyota this Saturday night displayed not a shred of anything resembling guts, sincerity, or maturity.

The events of lap 364 of the Southern 500 were captured to crystal clarity by FOX’s broadcast crew. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were battling hard for a spot in the top 10. Harvick made contact with Busch’s rear end entering turn 4 while making a crossover move. As the two were side by side entering turn 4, Clint Bowyer also entered the fray, creating a three-wide situation that proved too much for Harvick’s No. 29 to handle; Harvick corrected down the track and sent his teammate headfirst into the frontstretch’s interior retaining wall.

After touting the “new” Kyle Busch all season, the old Kyle Busch, complete with trademark smirk, showed up at Darlington this week.

From there, Harvick visibly moved down the track to get off of Busch’s Toyota. Busch, however, refused to let Harvick get away, turning a hard left down the frontstretch that hooked the No. 29 and sent it into the fence. Busch would finish the melee 11th, Harvick a distant 17th, disappointing results for two drivers that were contending through the long night for the win.

Frankly, there’s not a case to be made against Busch for choosing to wreck Harvick. Harvick did initiate the contact that the two drivers engaged in for the better part of a quarter-lap in the closing stretch. And what’s more, Harvick is one of the very few drivers in any level of NASCAR that Busch actually owed one. Flashback to Homestead last November, where after nearly 400 miles of Busch playing the good teammate, making life a living hell for both Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson as he tried to assist Denny Hamlin’s championship bid, Happy bowled all over Busch down the frontstretch to end the No. 18’s season early (he would later tell Hamlin “I parked yours [teammate].”)

Had the events of the evening ended at that, Busch would for the first time in his career actually be left holding the high ground. Eye for an eye, Busch six months later did exactly to Harvick what he had done to him at Homestead.

But what happened next ended any chance the Shrub would have at playing that role. It went beyond that, burning the facade that is the newfound maturity of Kyle Busch and desecrating the ashes.

A visibly angry Harvick pulled up right alongside Busch’s machine coming to pit road after the race; Busch tried to avoid the situation, pulling off pit road and back to the frontstretch. Harvick followed. Eventually, Busch returned to pit road, and Harvick stopped his car in front. Once Harvick had exited his car, Busch did the unthinkable; he ran into the back of Harvick’s parked car on pit road, sending the No. 29 into the pit wall with Harvick’s crew members watching.

Busch proceeded to drive his own car to the No. 18 hauler, parking the machine and later emerging to speak to FOX regarding the incident. And here, the brat side of Kyle Busch was on display for race fans coast to coast to see. He described Kevin Harvick’s racing hard in the late going as “unacceptable.” He never once acknowledged that, as the tapes clearly showed, that he had delivered payback, justified or not. And he blew off being called to the NASCAR hauler as “cool,” bearing more resemblance to a cocky high schooler trying to impress a gaggle of freshman by blowing off the man. With a slimy smile on his face to boot.

None of this is to say that Kevin Harvick has anything to hang his hat on either. Harvick did initiate contact with a driver he knows full well has a temper…and that owed him one. Harvick tried to throw a punch at Busch before Busch had gotten out of his car. And Harvick yet again opted to march into conflict with a driver completely protected by his helmet. If anything, Happy proved that he still needs to grow a pair to match the attitude he sports.

But none of that changes the fact that a driver has been the subject of an intense media lovefest for his supposed maturation since an offseason marriage and a red hot start to 2011 that’s seen him run well in Cup while massacring the minor league ranks of NASCAR. Lesson learned; it’s awful easy to act calm and mature when things are going well. On this Saturday night, that wasn’t the case. Busch had a car capable of winning this race, but a mid-race vibration and an unscheduled pit stop mired the No. 18 too far back in traffic to take this trophy home. Top 10 was the best case on this Saturday night.

And lo and behold, that “maturity” went out the window. There was Busch, playing rough with one of NASCAR’s nastiest, and then literally running away from the situation after the fact. There was Busch, wrecking another car after the checkered flag flew (not the first time, flash back to Watkins Glen in 2005, when Busch ran over Anthony Lazzaro after the race concluded). And there was Busch, basking in media attention for his misdeed as if he’d made a point, as if he’d stood up for himself on the sport’s biggest stage.

Busch certainly made a point. The “old” Kyle Busch is alive and well. No matter the PR job that Joe Gibbs Racing does, and no matter the rubber stamp DW and so many in the media put on it, Kyle Busch is still a petulant punk of a race car driver, even if there’s a ring on his finger. And though he may be smiling more in 2011, the same attitude and behaviors that for years have kept one of NASCAR’s greatest talents from realizing anything short of stacks of minor league wins are all still there.

Then again, Mars Inc. is probably thrilled. The terror of a little kid they’ve had hawking candy for the past few years started talking, acting and smirking like one again.

Contact Bryan Davis Keith

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … A Return To Richmond, Post-Spingate And Quick Hits
NASCAR Mailbox: A ‘Normal’ Saturday And A Valuable Lesson
Beyond the Cockpit: Tony ‘The Sarge’ Schumacher
Open Wheel Wednesday: Controversial Moves, Long Beach Crowds, and Being a Fuddy Duddy
The Frontstretch Five: Pleasant Surprises of 2014 So Far
IndyCar Driver Profile: Takuma Sato
Beyond the Cockpit: Tommy Baldwin on Owning His Team, Hall of Fame and the Number Seven


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Ice Blue
05/09/2011 12:56 AM

How pathetic. You and Harvick are both just pissed that Kyle Busch is a better substitute for the “real” Earnhardt than Harvick ever was.

05/09/2011 06:05 AM

So, Kyle is sitting in a car with a seat that virtually surrounds him, wearing a full face helmet, and he’s worried that Keving is going to punch him? All he had to do was keep the face plate down and turn his head and let Kevin break a knuckle trying to swing at him (Ask Mikey Waltrip how well that works). At least Harvick was willing to settle it mano a mano. As many times as Kyle has ‘bumped’ other cars out of his way without apology makes it even sillier. But we all knew he hadn’t really changed, didn’t we?

Sue Rarick
05/09/2011 07:25 AM

Harvick stayed in his car till he radioed for his posse to show up. And the posse (I counted 8 crew members of Harvicks)were the only ones that could possibly have been hit by Harvick’s car (poetic justice?. Kyle did the smart thing. Getting into a fight with 9-1 odds against you is not a smart move by even the best fighters.

05/09/2011 08:13 AM

No facts here. Just assumptions of what is going on in each of the drivers minds. Biased editorials based on preconceived opinions.

05/09/2011 08:21 AM

I guess the author of this article saw a different set of events than I. First off, crossing the Start/Finish at the beginning of lap 364 Harvick was outside, one row in front of Busch, but the outside line was hung up. As Busch on the inside lane was about to pass Harvick, Harvick dived three full lanes left forcing Busch way to the inside and out of the racing lane. Busch then held position to the inside (the preferred line) and half a car length behind in turns one and two, finally making the pass through three and four. Then he was bumped hard by a veteran driver(Harvick) who knows that hitting a driver in that part of the car is definitely going to cause him problems. Beating and banging ensued resulting in Bowyer getting dumped. Following that, Kyle may have gotten loose, but more likely than not, he returned the “veteran driver” bump to Harvick. That was ugly racing, but it was racing. What happened after the race was over was childish and petty. Busch, who has been lambasted over the years, tried to take the high road. He is trying to turn his image around and Harvicks knows it. Harvick did his best to goad Busch into a fight, one that surely would have erased any progress to date with Busch’s image cleansing process. But don’t worry, where Harvick failed, the author of this article has surely picked up. Busch did hit Harvick’s car, but they were less than a foot apart at a complete stop. It was a bad choice, yet it was just about the only choice Busch had short of a fist fight. A fist fight would have certainly brought out the “Old Kyle” comments faster than anything. Of course, that may be exactly what many people want. Had Harvick acted like a man and took his car to garage as is the custom, none of the events would have happened. Busch’s interview before heading off to the NASCAR hauler was not childish, it was actually done quite well. He actually said it was cool that NASCAR had summoned them, because they would have a chance to talk it out and figure out why the events happened as they did. The author failed to mention that part because it didn’t fit his agenda. But I guess it is lost on Frontstretch readers that trashy writers will stir up any king of garbage that they can to sell more ad space.

05/09/2011 09:17 AM

The most entertaining part of the whole mess was listening to DW fumble and fart around trying to justify PeeWee crossing down to take Harvick out. If it had been ANY other driver, DW would have said “He intentionally wrecked him”; but since it was PeeWee Herman, all DW could muster was something like “I’m not sure what that was all about” !?!?! I guess it didn’t fit in with the oft-mentioned script for the show: “Kyle Busch at the HEIGHT OF HIS MATURITY”. What a sad, sick joke. As I’ve said before, why doesn’t DW just lean over and give PeeWee a big ole wet kiss and get it over with? Man, I can’t wait for the Fox part of the broadcast season to be over with!

Joe W.
05/09/2011 10:29 AM

Well this whole situation would make me laugh if it wasn’t so dangerous. I am just glad no one was hurt on pit road. I have said all along that Kyle Busch and Harvick are the two biggest jerks in all motorsports. I think they proved my point Saturday night. I would love to see them take each other out every week except that someone else might get hurt. There never was a “new” Kyle Busch. That was Joe Gibbs and Fox’s creation. Now we see how that played out. And Harvick is the same old jerk he always was too. Yes if it wasn’t for the fact that someone else could get hurt this would be hilarious!!! But someone else probably would get hurt and these two Bozos would never even care. That is the sad part.

05/09/2011 10:30 AM

Perfection – I knew this article was gonna be great when the first line was addressed to the blind DW. I don’t know what I was more angered about Saturday night. Kylebaby’s real personality coming out yet again, or DW’s overwhelming case of blindness towards his behavior. I guess this is what, round 5 of the “new Kyle Busch”???

05/09/2011 11:52 AM

I can’t wait for Dover!!! I’m sure there will be a lot of smashed metal after the race :)

05/09/2011 12:02 PM

While I usually agree with you, in this instance I believe you need to take off your blinders. (your hatred of Kyle is evident)

Kyle did many things to avoid any confrontion with Harvick (which would have had consciquences) and pushed Harvick’s car (as Happy stopped right in front of him) still trying to avoid a fight.

These are my 2 drivers. And they both acted like A$$E$ Sat. night.

05/09/2011 12:27 PM

I too am amazed at how ole DW tried to mitigate Kyle’s deliberate wrecking of Harvick which could have been way worse than what it was. There was plenty of cars behind Kyle and Harvick and it’s just amazing a lot of innocent drivers didn’t get caught up in Kyle’s Mess. Look, I know Harvick has had some problems too but in all honesty, that incident with Harvick and the pass he was trying to make when they got three wide and there was some bumping and rubbing going on looked like good tough hard nosed racing. But, remember Busch can touch anyone he wants to but you had better not ever, ever, touch him. We saw exactly why this spoiled rich kid brat is so hated Sat. Night. And, I want to personally give thanks to Rick Hendricks for dumping this little idiot brat. Sure, it may have cost him some wins but he stood up to Kyle and his personality and said I’m not going to put up with you. However, the good christian man Mr. Gibbs has no problem with Kyle as long as he can get win for him regardless of his antics or whatever. One of these days when Kyle pulls one of these stunts and Kyle gets somebody seriously hurt, crippled, or killed, wonder what ole DW and Kyle’s Fans will spin then. Nascar’s wonders what’s wrong with them and why the crowds or down. All they have to look at is Kyle. People are tired of going to races and watching him win because he is so disliked. Guess he fits in good with Gibb’s Racing. Remember the old saying “you’re known by the company you keep”. Gibbs Racing ought to remember this.

Joe W.
05/09/2011 01:13 PM

Larry, if there was a like button on these comments I would click it for your comment. Very well stated.

05/09/2011 01:16 PM

Geez, Larry, why don’t you tell us how you really fee? Look, these are 2 of my drivers and I like them both, and they did both act like asses the other night. But why are we making such a big deal out of it? Yes, Kyle made a mistake by running into Harvick’s unpiloted car, but remove that from the situation. Take away that one error in judgement and what do we have? We have the type of situation that makes race fans salivate. 2 drivers at the end of 500 going at it and getting a little physical, with a nice confrontation after the race for good measure. I’ll take that over “Well, I wanna thank Lowe’s and my guys and all the awesome competitors I compete against. NASCAR is the greatest sanctioning body ever. Thanks for coming to Auto Club Speedway.” The fact of the matter is, one judgement error has everybody up in arms over what would have been a great situation for the sport (not to mention Dover).

05/09/2011 03:21 PM

No one has really responded to the dead-on part of the article which described Kyle the Mature’s comments after the race. DW, et al continued to act like this was the “new and improved” #18. I have intuited all along that this was a handler’s creation, a sock puppet with a fake smile, like one of those e-mouths you used to see on Conan, lip-synching empty niceties. Most inauthentic person I ever witnessed. This time it was all on display, even though he had the fake mouth thing going. It was fakier than ever, and even though he didn’t storm off like he used to, boy driver’s words and attitude were a Mars Corp. demographic dream.

05/09/2011 03:41 PM

With ya on shrubber still just a punk…I to thought things were a changing… Other than the chicken stuff he should..My only problem is in that moment of panic some one on pit road could have been hurt …That boy & Harv are lucky

05/09/2011 03:43 PM

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that noticed DW fumbling around trying to justify Kyle running over Harvick.

But then again, FOX is becoming quite the joke. I mean focusing on this altercation instead of Regan’s win just confirms to all that they don’t care about the racing but more about hyping up the race and their favorites. You wonder if JJ or Jr won the race, how they would have juggled that.

Anyway, they get their wish. They can hype up next weeks race all week now. For a network to put so much effort in hyping up a race, they sure blow it when it comes to actually broadcasting it.

05/09/2011 03:51 PM

Harvick has always been you get what you see. Childress has never sugar-coated Harvick’s rep. He’s a hot-head and doesn’t always do the PC thing.
But Krylebaby Busch wrecks anyone who touches him after bashing half the field. Kryle has been the subject of a major PR fest this season. They can spin all they want and make him the teacher’s pet. But he is the kid that runs roughshod over everyone until finally someone steps up and kicks his ass. I’m waiting…………..

05/09/2011 04:25 PM

After Darlington, I will not support the Joe Gibbs hypocrites. Joe Gibbs needs to speak to his drivers to clean up their acts or get out of Nascar. M&M should be ashamed to support the likes of Kyle Busch. Mars should go to better people. You do not need Kyle Busch. He is bad publicity for families and their kids. No more Mars products here. Fed Ex cry baby driver Hamlin. Go UPS for business. No more Home Depot. Lowes or Menards for hardware.

high plains drifter
05/09/2011 04:37 PM

let’s not forget that kyle busch also destroyed bobby labonte’s car and put marcos ambrose into the wall on the last lap also because of idiotic driving.

05/09/2011 05:16 PM

Ur writing sums this situation up as well as anything ive read , definitely be a reader from now on ! Thnx

high ground
05/09/2011 05:54 PM

Fox did a terbbile job of showing the harvick/busch contact, comming off of turn 2 harvick came down 3-4 lanes and pushed kyle almost to the inside wall. Also harvick’s car got up to a whopping 5 mph, about the same speed Menard was going when he ran over his crew member.

patrick martin
05/09/2011 06:08 PM

okay, I’m tired of everyone being on Kyle’s case. Kyle didn’t do a thing wrong on the track(or at least, nothing Kevin wouldn’t have done).I’ll admit, the pit road thing was uncalled for but i mean… Kevin boxed him in and didn’t even have the decency to take his helmet off or let kyle get out. and how dare you say the “new kyle” wasn’t in darlington. he raced with respect and maturity all night long and it was paying off towards the end there. yeah he lost his temper but everyone does. and we all know even this kyle doesn’t have a very long fuse. you people make me sick,constantly letting your bias get in the way of your ability to think clearly. i knew the moment he didn’t do something poster-boyish, everyone would get on his case like they’re glued there. geez

05/09/2011 07:29 PM

Bush is a wussy. And so is Forehead Harvick. Looks like Bush never considered his only option – getting out of his car and kicking Harvicks butt. But neither one would have had the guts to take their hemlets off. What a joke. Bet NASCAR paid them a bonus for stirring up a little excitement. ‘HAVE AT IT BOYS’.
And just what the heck is a ‘cawshun’, anyway?No wonder people don’t waste time on this crappola anymore.

05/09/2011 07:38 PM

I guess Dana will have to take care of Kyle.

05/09/2011 07:46 PM

The only thing funnier than what happened on the track Saturday night is all of these idiots letting their hatred for Kyle show through. If he had gotten out of his car and started throwing punches, both with helmets on, they would have looked like a couple of morons. Instead Kyle bumped Harvicks car out of the way. First of all, no one seems to mention that maybe Harvick should not have left his vehicle unattended so he could throw a punch at a fellow driver. Secondly, Kyle made multiple attempts to avoid any conflict but Harvick wouldnt let it go. Thirdly, it doesnt matter if he wrecked him on purpose or not. Harvick hit him just a few laps earlier, and put him in the wall at homestead. Harvick didnt get in front of a microphone to announce his intentions and say “i parked your teammate” someone happened to over hear that comment. Harvick is no more of a man than any other driver out there. I simply cannot believe that a driver got out of his car to strike another is considered the lesser of the two aggressors in this situation. Absoulutel abhorent and completely biased writing. Finally, what the h3ll is all of this talk about how you people think the “new” kyle is not authentic. Of course its not authentic, but this is what you wanted! You hated the old kyle, too arrogant, too cocky, too rough around the edges, doesnt interview well, says the wrong things, blah blah blah blah blah. You got what you wished for! What Kyle Busch does in front of a mic is no different than any other jack a55 that stands up there. Dale Jr stumbles through interviews like he barely knows the english language and no one comments on his inability to communicate. Its time to decide once and for all what you want! If it were me, I would adapt to what the people paying $20 Million a year to sponsor my car wanted as well. You people are not the ones paying his salary. I tend to do what my boss wants as well.

05/09/2011 08:16 PM

Hey Matt-
You need to go out and pick some tulips.

patrick martin
05/09/2011 09:08 PM

matt’s the only one who said anything that made sense…(including the article writer)

05/10/2011 08:19 AM

Spot on, Matt.

All that these ‘writers’ have to do is bash Kyle and they’re instant stars, I guess.

05/10/2011 12:08 PM

All you Kryle Busch lovers need to reread his history….

05/10/2011 09:05 PM

Frankly, most comments I’ve read on here and other sites seemed to be more concerned with the pit road events. I was more concerned about how Kyle just blatenly took Harvick out in front of the field. Kyle should have at least been parked at that time but Nascar just does nothing and when some driver or innocent other driver gets caught up in Kyle’s Mess the blood will be on Nascar not Kyle because Nascar has done nothing. What a joke for the fines and double secret probation handed out today. Again, Nascar will have blood on their hands one day because of things like this.

05/10/2011 10:26 PM

Matt & Pat yall need to hang out together…I’ve never said ANYthing that was incorrect or biased against shrubber … The boy has incredible skill ..But he’s such an A’s Hole most folks will never see it…I Was just backing off my M7M’s ban (& Thx for supporting Nascar) The he turned back into the shrub (in every way) Comments do NOT = Your (yes both) comments where Your Bia’s is Quite Clear…Thx & Best To All Nascar Fan’s

05/10/2011 10:34 PM

& Larry I Completely agree …It will hurt the sport so bad right now.. & Why wait till some one’s hurt..& Both Partys have a ton O’ guilt here… Just one was worse…The hit (last one) was a really cheap shot considering the situation & than just man up after ya know …( miss the 70-90’s)