Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
It’s a modern journalism phenomenon. The mainstream media seems to love elevating politicians, athletes, celebrities, and would-be celebrities to prominence, then spend the next few years trying to chop them off at the knees.
To a lesser extent, it’s the same with the racing media, yours truly included. We’re often not sure what it is, exactly, that we want. We’ll write about boring races, then decry the fact NASCAR threw an unnecessary caution to spice up the end of a race. We’ll decry the fact that drivers have become sponsor-spewing bland robots, yet the second we let just one of them show some negative emotion, they get taken behind the woodshed and beat to shreds in the press.
Such is the case with Kyle Busch many times over the last few seasons. The guy occasionally appears unable to open his mouth without shooting himself in the foot or coming across as a whiny brat. He’s damned if he walks away declining comment when he’s angry, and he’s damned if he sticks around and talks. But given the nature and tone of some of his comments, it’s pretty hard to lay the blame for what his brother Kurt might call “Kyle’s dispopularity” solely at the feet of the media.
Truthfully, I don’t think that Kyle Busch is the walking embodiment of evil some paint him out to be. The younger Busch brother is, in fact, an incredibly talented driver who has already won a ton of races in NASCAR’s top three touring divisions, and is likely to win scads more.
He’s also fairly charitable. A few years back, when early Busch Series pioneer Sam Ard was facing some hard financial times, Busch stepped up to the plate and offered assistance that included a specially equipped van to keep Mr. Ard mobile. Wednesday night, he sacrificed an all-too-rare afternoon and evening off to participate in Tony Stewart’s charity race at Eldora. Even at 25 years of age, Busch has set up his own charitable foundation to benefit disadvantaged kids.
So why is there a perception that Busch is a bad guy? He’s go no one but himself to thank for that. Some of it is out of his control. Busch’s default facial expression seems to be a swarmy smirk like he’s just waiting to get himself in trouble again. And Busch does, in fact, get whiny when things don’t go his way, an unfortunate trait for a fellow whose chosen profession means that you’re going to lose more races than you win. You’d think his ratios of wins to losses lately would keep most drivers upbeat and happy, but Busch apparently thinks he’s going to win every race he enters. Either that, or he’s going to find someone to blame that he didn’t win.
I am still at a loss to understand why Busch was so angry after the All-Star race. Denny Hamlin didn’t run Busch up into the wall. Busch ran into it all by himself. Then, with a tire rubbing heavily, knowing it was going to blow, he continued driving at full speed until that right front tire did blow, and Kasey Kahne became an unfortunate victim of his indiscretion. If anyone had a right to be angry after that race, it was Kahne. Part of the maturation process for a young driver is learning to accept the occasional night or afternoon that doesn’t go your way. For some reason, Busch is a little slow on the uptake there.
Perhaps the most telling Busch moment of the year came during this year’s Darlington Nationwide event. When a late caution flew, Busch’s crew chief told him to pit, but he decided to remain on track. He then yelled at his crew chief over the radio, claiming that the decision not to pit had cost him the race. How does that work? As it turns out, apparently Busch was blaming Denny Hamlin, who had “freaked him out” by deciding not to pit.
Therein lies another part of the puzzle. The NASCAR TV media has been desperate for someone to step into the role of the villain ever since the death of Dale Earnhardt. Busch has often proven to be more than willing to don that black hat. His post-race bow to the fans (a good number of whom are booing him) is at once charmingly self-deprecating, but on another level about the equivalent of extending both middle fingers at them. (Either way, it surely beats the “snow angel” celebration.) By airing communications like the above exchange at Darlington (and Busch’s threat to kill Denny Hamlin at Charlotte), the networks add to the perception that Busch is a bit of a whiner.
It’s rare that any other driver other than Busch is shown stalking off to his trailer or motor home having refused comment. In at least one instance, Busch insists he was, in fact, ready to comment on an incident but the network thought the walk made for better TV than an actual interview. Sometimes, it does seem that in their efforts to paint Busch as the new “bad guy,” the networks don’t get the fact fans do, in fact, like a “Bad Guy.” Dale Earnhardt was the “Bad Guy” with his smirk, his take no prisoners driving style, and his “never explain, never complain” attitude. (Which, yes, he occasionally violated.) What the fans don’t like is a “bad” guy. Busch’s motto seems to be “never explain, always complain” which makes him a bit tiresome and comes across as whiny. Occasionally, the TV folks need to hand Busch a “bye,” let him cool off a minute and watch the tape before commenting – though it makes for better TV when Kyle once again goes into the meltdown zone.
But why would the TV networks pick Busch as their new bad guy? Part of it predates Busch’s own arrival in the big leagues. His brother Kurt wasn’t very popular in some quarters when Kyle arrived as a Cup rookie. But over the years, the elder Busch has matured, if not exactly mellowed. He’s learned to be more gracious in both victory and defeat. While still animated, Kurt Busch is no longer quite so despised. You’d have thought maybe Kyle would have gleaned some tips from his brother’s own rocky start in the business, which eventually led to a championship and subsequent dismissal from Roush Racing the very next season. Then, you read where Kurt and Kyle didn’t even talk for six months after a wreck in the All-Star race, and part of the problem becomes obvious.
For some Ford fans, there’s resentment that Kyle Busch had been a development driver for Jack Roush and Ford, only to eventually choose to sign on with Rick Hendrick and Chevy. Shades of Jeff Gordon, once the driver the fans most loved to hate, a 19-year-old kid landing a ride for one of the sport’s top teams having grown up with his parents bankrolling his racing dreams from a tender age. For them, the defection was Gordon all over again.
But the mild-mannered Gordon at 21 was no match for a teenage Busch moving up the ranks. In his very first season on the Cup circuit, a brash Busch made it clear he felt very strongly that even at 19, he wasn’t honored to be racing the Cup Series; he felt entitled and worthy to do so, and he planned to start winning races in bunches during the very near future.
Once he won at Fontana in his 26th Cup start, Busch became by and large insufferable to some. That same season, Busch went on to win at Phoenix, but he finished 20th in the points due in large part to eight DNFs, usually caused by him driving angry or beyond the limits of his experience. Busch would last until the end of 2007 with Hendrick. Though he technically lost his seat to Casey Mears, many felt that Busch, despite a lot of success, was getting kicked to the curb to make room for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Many felt Busch was nursing resentment towards Earnhardt after getting the boot from Hendrick, and has done little to quell that notion since. (When Rick Hendrick replaced Tony Eury Jr. with Lance McGrew, Busch said in a press conference that McGrew was the one under pressure because “it will never be Junior’s fault.”)
It all came to a head when Busch wrecked Earnhardt at Richmond in 2008 and noted (in one of his more self-aware moments) “Perhaps wrecking the sport’s Most Popular Driver wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done.” (His immediate reaction after getting pelted with beer cans after the race (he finished second) was “I’ll wreck at many cars as I have to to win races.”) With Earnhardt having been poised to end a 71-race winless streak, Busch instantly became one of the most despised men on the sport, if not on the planet.
Another classic Busch quote from the same year was in answer to how fans perceived him in the sport. (Maybe all the beer cans being tossed at the No. 18 car inspired the question?) Sayeth young Master Busch, “Since I got in the sport, my perception has been horrible.” Misspoken to be sure, but no truer words could have been said. Since he entered the Cup Series, Busch hasn’t been able to perceive where he fits in. He doesn’t seem to understand racing did just fine without him a lot of years, and it could, in fact, continue on quite nicely without him. When it seems that you’re in a feud with someone every week, and the normally level-headed Jeff Burton is in your face screaming after a race, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your actions. It can be somebody else’s fault some of the time, but it can’t be somebody else’s fault all of the time.
As a media member, I think eventually Kyle Busch will be fine, perhaps even respected for his raw talent once he learns to channel it in a way that doesn’t leave smoking carnage in his wake. Already, Brad Keselowski seems poised to pick up Kyle’s black hat. And so the circle of life continues, just as it did with Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, and others. The evolution from bad boy to respected statesman in the sport of stock car racing isn’t quick or linear. Even seasoned veterans occasionally show their ass on camera.
But if the media is fickle, they’re supposed to be fair. Fans aren’t under the same obligation. They like who they like and loathe who they loathe. Yeah, everybody says they want drivers to be honest and show emotion. But if every time you open your mouth, all you do is reveal a multitude of loathsome personality defects, maybe it really is best just to shut up.
Mr. Busch, you ain’t selling a lot of candy and dog food the way you’re going right now.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
16 Days till Danica comes back… 16 days till we no longer have to hear about KYLE BUSCH!
Take a look at Matt’s 1st three paragraphs. Ever stop to think that the media is to blame for the oversaturation of the sport into mainstream society?
In the early 2000’s as NASCAR grew in popularity, EVERY major media network jumped on board. As a result, now we are left with ignorant commentators on “NASCAR NOW” and the somehow-related-to-racing (?) “Fast Track to Fame” on Speed. These idiotic programs, inaccurate SPortCenter reports on Monday mornings, and so much other main-stream media belittle our interest in the sport and turn-away many of you “old school fans”.
Articles like this one do the same. Writers on NASCAR either scream about how AWFUL the sport is (yet they keep watching) or write about “the new kyle busch” – like anyone cares.
Most people in America concern themselves with job security, not NASCAR columnists. It seems as if they intentionally try to drive fans away to prove a point. Sure Brian France isn’t the greatest thing since Sliced Bread (let’s leave that to Joe Logano) but you guys aren’t helping.
The sad news is, the less fans, the less folks will read articles about NASCAR. Am I the only one who gets this? (Other than K.I.P. and Randal G?)
I say we give DansMom her own column. She can split it with noel_w and we can finally get a solid insight into the female perspective of Nascar.
Just for the record….Kurt Bush was a idiot and child until Jimmy Spencer MADE him grow up!! Kyle will be an idiot until someone in nascrap grows a set and breaks his nose!! Just ask Kurt!!
Johnboy60 – I have to agree. The punch in the nose from Spencer and Jack Roush’s “we’re done being apologists” statement did more to force Kurt to re-assess than anything else.
Kyle’s immaturity reflects badly on him, on his parents (who apparently were wolves judging by the manners of both their kids)and Joe Gibbs. How is it that Mr. Holier than Thou can have the most drivers on staff (first it was Tony, now its KyBu and Hamlin) who act in such a profoundly ugly way toward everyone?
BTW, I gave up eating M&M’s in particular and anything sold by M&M Mars as my own personal protest of Kyle’s behavior. I don’t have a dog, but if I did, I wouldn’t buy the brand he represents either.
I have to laugh at the time and effort spent on analyzing Kyle Busch. The media seems to want to feed the notion that he is the most hated driver in Nascar because of his behavior. Have you heard the radio from Dale Jr.,the other Busch and so many other drivers? Although not a Busch fan, I think the media has created this unreasonable “bad guy” attitude for the sensationalism.
You, the media, create these characters instead of giving them credit for their accomplishments.
There is obviously some skewed reporting for sensationalism because I don’t see the articles on Tony Stewart (who has physically and verbally assaulted the press), Carl Edwards (who has threatened his teammate and seems to have a uncontrollable temper).
And why doesn’t Jr. get the same treatment when he wrecked Busch at Daytona?
Fans do not know these drivers, it is the press that creates the personality. How many drivers storm off after a wreck or the end of a race?
I hope that Casey Mears, David Reutiman, Scott Speed, David Regan, Sam Hornish etc. receive some attention in your articles. Maybe you can create more heroes and less drama over one driver.
@Dansmom- I wonder how many races KB will win in these next 16 days? My guess is more than one.
“Writers on NASCAR either scream about how AWFUL the sport is (yet they keep watching)”… [Much like Dansmom keeps ranting about certain columnists but keeps on reading]
… or write about “the new kyle busch” – like anyone cares.” [Much like Dansmom keeps blabbing about Danica]
I still say Dansmom is a closet McLaughlin fan. She’s just like him.
@Randy – Two problems, unless you’re being sarcastic here which is totally possible, Noel is a guy, and you’re not going to get a lot of solid info from dansmom. For solid “female perspective” comments, see what JerseyGirl has to say. She always has articulate, very sensible comments in all of her posts, IMO.
As for Kyle Busch, my problem last weekend with the media was some of the media was saying that “He is realizing what is important and concentrating on the cup side, while some were saying that Joe Gibbs insisted that he forgo the Nashville NW race and concentrate on cup. So, is Kyle more concerned about the cup series, or is it Joe / JD Gibbs?
The thing is, even though Kyle is much-hated by many, he is also becoming one of the sport’s most popular and marketable stars – if you count merchandise sales, which is the way Dale Sr. fans always ranked his popularity. Kyle is simply polarizing – you either hate him or love him. If Kyle Busch did not exist, NASCAR would have to create him. As a female fan and one who is even older than Mr. McLaughlin, I can honestly say Kyle has won me over nearly 100%. Just watching him pass Sam Hornish sideways on Sunday should have made any highlight film, if actual racing were ever included on a highlight film. I also love his attitute of “Refuse to Lose,” although I could do with a bit less whining. Still, I am a Kyle fan and I certainly am not alone in cheering for NASCAR’s Wild Thing.
Many NASCAR stars have learned that it is better to be booed than ignored, so if playing Mr. Bad Guy works for Kyle, I say keep bowing and smashing guitars!
And Jersey Girl, of course you don’t have a dog. That says it all.
@Susan – Smashing that Sam Bass Hand-Painted Trophy Guitar is one of the biggest mistakes Kyle has ever made. Don’t expect him to make that mistake again.
JerseyGirl ,you don’t understand why Joe Gibbs would hire drivers like Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch ????? I can tell you exactly why . Because after all of the People Magazine , TMZ , Inside Edition , type handwringing over personalities and which driver talked trash or acted badly , it’s really about a drivers ability to win races . Thats the reason to hire a driver . And as you might have noticed , Gibbs is pretty good at picking winning drivers . Explosive , outspoken , opionated , jerks . Yeh , maybe . But the ability to interact with fans and media is secondary to a drivers ability to race . Because after all , thats why they’re there .
It doesnt matter how many races KB wins in the next 16 days. 16 days from now NASCAR finally gets its savior back and I predict that she will win the Busch Series championship. I mean even I could beat all of those crappy drivers in that series.
Randy Goldman and Dans Mom are the same people.
Mom, please come back to bed now. I miss you.
Not to be confused with Mullet Dan, by the way.
Flattering, but I can assure you I am not nearly as hot as DansMom.
Oh-My-God Randy Goldman WHAT?
Shoeman – how many times will KB lead sportcenter in the next 16 days?
Probably not as good in the sack as her either.
Well I think Dansmom must be a MILF. She’s right on with most of her comments even if you like to bash her, her points are valid. What’s hotter than a cool chick (she IS a fan, after all) with brain? If you answer a cool chick with no brains, look in the mirror, wacko ;-)
I have this fantasy about DansMom. Its where I smear preparation H around her mouth and it shrinks up tight so she can’t talk!
I remember when Kurt was the hated one in the Cup Series. Fans near the Las Vegas area warned, “Wait until his brother Kyle comes up. He’s even worse.” It was like reading a prophecy.
Were the Las Vegas fans warning you of how bad@$$ of a driver Kyle is?