The Frontstretch: Will The Real Kyle Busch Please Stand Up! by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday February 18, 2009

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Will The Real Kyle Busch Please Stand Up!

Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday February 18, 2009


Like most Cup racing fans out there, I, too, have a driver that I like to dislike more than others. I don’t take it to the level that some people do and actually “hate” the guy, mainly because that would be wasting a lot of time and emotion on someone I don’t really care about anyway. Instead, I am going to waste time and words by making him the focus of this column — and hopefully meet a deadline while I’m at it.

Of course, the person I am talking about is none other than Kyle Busch. But before those few Kyle fans out there get all riled up, let me remind you that you (Kyle fans) are, in fact, a minority — so that ought to tell you something right there. But let’s back up a minute and take a look at why Kyle is a candidate for such popular disdain.

The problem with Kyle is, and always has been, his arrogance. This kid is immensely talented, and even I admit that he really can drive the wheels off a race car. Unfortunately, as great as his talent can be, his ego and arrogance always seem to wind up that much greater.

During this last week at Daytona, however, I thought for a brief moment that I may have to give Kyle some credit, and actually change my mode of thinking for the better. Not that I plan to jump on the kid’s bandwagon and laud his praises; but, at the very least, I would admit to myself that maybe he is maturing a bit, after all.

That moment came during practice for the Daytona 500, when it was widely reported and shown (probably partly as a PR stunt, in combination with disbelief) that it was the “veteran” Kyle who was helping and mentoring the new rookie in the Joe Gibbs stable, Joey Logano.

As the practice wore on, there were in-car camera shots of Kyle actually practicing in the No. 20 car. There were garage shots of Kyle (and Denny Hamlin) talking to and gesturing at Joey, presumably about how the car would handle and not about how to slide a piece of bologna into two pieces of sliced bread. There was also talk in the booth of how mature Kyle had become. In actuality, there seemed to be a sense of surprise!

All of that got me to thinking… ya know, maybe I should give the kid a break. He was acting very mature in all those reports. He obviously wasn’t thinking only of himself… and maybe he was growing up after all. To tell you the truth, I was actually a bit sorry to see it, really. I mean geez, let’s face it — when you dislike someone that much, the last thing you want to see is the guy acting like a normal human being! You’d have to give him credit for that; and if you take away Kyle’s ego and arrogance, what have you got left to dislike him for?! Even I am not so cruel and petty as to dislike a guy solely because of his looks.

Well, I hadn’t even had a whole day to think about this new and alien way of thinking about Kyle before another incident stopped me from worrying about it altogether.

Saturday afternoon’s Nationwide Series race was winding down and heating up! Tony Stewart was in the lead and Kyle was second — literally right up Tony’s butt, with rivals Carl and Clint in hot pursuit of them both! Coming off turn four on the final lap, Kyle gives Tony the expected little nudge, making Tony looser than a politician with taxpayer’s dollars! Miraculously, Tony manages to hang on, holding speed just enough to stay ahead of Kyle. Meanwhile, here come Carl and Clint behind them! As all cars crossed the finish line, few race fans could deny that they had just witnessed one of the finest finishes in recent memory!

Kyle’s nudge to Tony — while having the initial desired effect — also cost Kyle precious momentum, allowing both Carl and Clint to pass him and relegating the No. 18 to a fourth place finish.

This fantastic ending to the Nationwide Series race at Daytona left fans cheering — and Kyle Busch fuming after a last-ditch effort to take the win left him fading to fourth at the checkered flag.

Great, great racing by all involved!

Now, here is where it all falls apart. After the race, there are the obligatory interviews with all involved. Tony, Carl, and Clint are all pumped and ecstatic — they’re in wonder of how thrilling it all was. But, where is Kyle? There is no interview with Kyle! Why not?

The reason there was no interview is because Kyle, after returning to the garage, immediately jumped out of his car and stormed off in disgust… presumably to hide and pout somewhere. My question is WHY, Kyle?

Undoubtedly, there has to be some disappointment at not winning the race — that is understandable. And I can even understand the competitive nature of the racers themselves; but give me a break! Kyle has absolutely nothing at stake in this race. He is racing for fun! He is not racing for the first win of his career here — far from it. So, why ruin a truly fantastic effort and finish with such childish petulance? When his post-race actions were reported (almost immediately, by FS insiders), I almost couldn’t believe it. There was no reason for it, no reason at all. It didn’t make sense.

But… now it does. That, my friends, IS Kyle Busch. A very talented, but equally childish and petulant race car driver that people love to hate (or at least dislike very much!)

So, keep up the good work, Kyle. And if you hear cheering… it’s because you didn’t.

Stay off the wall!

Jeff Meyer

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02/19/2009 06:56 AM

After 4 decades of watching all forms of racing, I’ve come to know many of the drivers are toads off the track, and I really don’t care.

After 40 years of racing, I’ve seen some incredible driving. And I want to see more.

Danica Patrick is a fun thing to look at but to be honest, I’ve yet to see her do anything in a car that turned me on.

If I had a choice of…. a driver that won just a single race on fuel mileage last season, or a driver that exhibits deft car control and takes anything to victory lane, I’ll watch the latter.

02/19/2009 08:40 AM

Kyle is a great driver! Given that, he will never be anything but a arrogant little punk until he grows up or better yet, he runs his mouth some more and someone does a “Jimmy Spencer” on him! At the point that happens and he quits driving that jap crap, I just might change my mine. None of this will happen so I will continue to be his and toyo’s biggest HATER!

02/19/2009 09:26 AM

Let me say, that like you, I recognise, & admire Kurt’s talent. I am not a fan. Let me, also say this. I suspect that the behavior that we see from him, because of the stage he’s playing on. Would be very similar to the behavior shown by Tony Stewart, or Super Tex. At the same point in their careers. These just played out on dirt tracks out of the public eye, except for the fans actually in attendance.I’m guessing that by the time he reaches the same point in his career, that Tony is at now. That he will probably be better behaved than Tony.

M. B. Voelker
02/19/2009 10:07 AM

Kyle has always done stuff like he did for Joey. As soon as he got to the Busch series he took Alex Haase, son of a rival from Vegas, under his wing to give him a hand up.

And during the week that the camera crews followed Kyle’s spotter for one of those insider shows the spotter, who is also an agent for upcoming drivers, called Kyle out of the blue and put one of those young drivers (Landon Cassill?), on the phone with him for advice.

Joe Menzer at had a good, get in Kyle’s head, article this week about the high standards Kyle holds for racing. Kyle’s long-time fans have often seen that those standards are held highest for HIMSELF.

Kyle’s apology to his truck team for coming in second was a good demonstration of that. “Old-School” fans love that phrase “Second place is just first loser”. And that is just how Kyle thinks.

I wasn’t there in Kyle’s hauler, I’ve never even met him (though I’ve heard a lot from someone who worked with him during his Busch rookie year). But I’d lay money on it that what Kyle was upset about on Saturday was that HE FAILED.

Its a mindset that will cause him a lot of grief over the years, but its not really a bad mindset for a top athlete to have because if he didn’t care that much he wouldn’t be at the top.

18 bigtime
02/19/2009 11:38 AM

I love it !! started were he left off last year..less a few blown engines..I like KYLE he’s refreshing for nascrap not just another (do the right thing, cookie cutter driver) or better yet Drivers trying to live off their parents FAME!!!!

Kevin in SoCal
02/19/2009 12:50 PM

Its so funny how Kyle was simply Kurt’s younger brother for the first few years. But since last year when he made a name for himself by winning a bunch of races, and (heaven forbid!) spinning out Dale Jr at Richmond, he’s been one of the most disliked drivers. I believe if he and Jr hadnt gotten together at Richmond, there wouldnt be quite so much negativity towards him.

02/19/2009 01:54 PM

Every sport needs a bad guy. Go Kyle

Joe W.
02/19/2009 03:05 PM

I have to agree with Jeff on this one. That was a great finish to the race. One of the best I have seen in a while. It might not have been if not for the skill and car control of one Tony Stewart. It was obvious from his post race comments he was not thrilled with Kyle pushing him through turns 3 and 4, but it made for a great finish. Kyle is just full of himself and I do not see that changing anytime soon. That is the main reason people, including myself, do not care for him. But, there is another reason and Johnboy60 nailed it. He drives a Toyota. It is part of his “image problem” with a lot of us long time fans.(I know I am not as old school as some, I only go back to the 79 Daytona 500.) Most of us still really like to see Ford vs Chevy or Chevy vs Ford depending on your personal preference. I have a Ford and a Chevy so I pull for both, but if Kyle were still in a Ford or Chevy, he would still be unpopular, but not as much as he is now.

02/19/2009 04:02 PM

NASCAR is not a personality contest or a beauty contest, though with all the bullcrap we had to endure associated with Daytona, I wonder. It’s about racing and winning. No one does that better than the handsome Kyle Busch.

You can quote me on that.

Toni Wellman
02/19/2009 09:07 PM

Jeff, did you listen to my song, “Goodbye Kyle” at

02/19/2009 10:58 PM

Ummm, the “Jap Crap” is made in the good ol’ USA, unlike the Chevy (Canada) and Ford (Mexico)

Jeff G
02/20/2009 07:29 AM

Even though I’m not a Kyle, I have to say he is one of the best drivers out there. Also, don’t forget what he did for Sam Ard.

Kevin in SoCal
02/20/2009 12:53 PM

Richard, we’ve gone round and round on that topic on this website, but the final point is look where the money goes. When you buy a Toyota, Honda, or Nissan the money goes to Japan. When you buy a Chevrolet, Ford, or Dodge(?), the money goes to Detroit, MI, USA.

Jeff G
02/20/2009 06:41 PM

No Kevin in SoCal. I once thought you were smarter than what you just posted.

The money goes to four different places.

1. Materials (if the car is built in the US then most of that money stays in the US)

2. Labor (If it’s built in the US then all that stays in the US)

3. Overhead ( Most of that would also be in the US if the car is built in the US)

4. Profit ( NOW you may have a leg to stand on. That goes to the stock holders. I dare say there are several in the US.)

You really disappoint me Kevin.

You don’t seem to understand how business works.

Kevin in SoCal
02/21/2009 02:17 AM

Fine, I dont care where a car is built, but if it has a Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc, badge on it, I will not own it. That’s a foreign car and it will always be a foreign car, no matter where its built. My love for USA companies is greater than my hatred for the unions that build them.

02/22/2009 09:38 AM

I will never understand why Kyle Busch’s driving style is lambasted by people who worshipped Dale Earnhardt.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
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