The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Busch's New Gibson Guitar Antics by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday September 3, 2009

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Fanning the Flames: Busch's New Gibson Guitar Antics

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday September 3, 2009


If you blinked, you missed it … and if I didn’t live in Nashville, I probably would have. As much we like to pile on young Mr. Kyle Busch for his snippiness with reporters, his taunting bows to the crowd after a win, or his guitar-smashing antics, we need to give him an “A-atta-boy” for this one.

And it all goes back to my last antic referenced: the now-infamous Gibson guitar smash in Victory Lane at Nashville Superspeedway. Yeah, he caught a lot of flack for it, and rightfully so. In fact, it’s still kind of a sore subject in these parts.

But this week, the driver-turned-mock-rock-star, through his Kyle Busch Foundation and in conjunction with Mike Curb’s Curb Foundation and NoS Energy Drink, donated $30,000 to the Nashville Alliance for Public Education. That money, in turn, will go toward the purchase of 150 Gibson guitars to be given to Overton and Glencliff Highs Schools here in Nashville.

Curb told the The Tennessean that, “It was [Busch’s] idea to do something for Nashville students, and I suggested this one.”

Curb is well known in racing circles — he is a longtime car owner who owned the car Richard Petty won his 200th race in — and is not only the owner of Nashville-based Curb Records but is a board member on the Nashville Alliance for Public Education.

Curb’s passion for both music and motorsports made a natural bridge for the gift, which will benefit well over 100 students that currently are forced to share instruments due to a lack of quality models and a further lack of funding available for upgrades.

And as for the smashed Gibson, Sam Bass, the noted artist who created the piece and is an avid guitar collector himself, was in Nashville in June and assured me there really are no lingering hard feelings over the incident.

“He said he meant no disrespect to me, the speedway, or Gibson, and he promised his guys a piece of the guitar,” Bass said. “I just took him at his word. He said he would order other guitars and he did, so it’s all good.”

Speaking of Kyle, that’s where we’ll start this week … but not before I throw the contact link up. First come, first serve, with the playoff push just around the corner.

I’m a little confused. Why was Kyle Busch running the rookie stripes on his car at Montreal? Last I checked, he ran a full schedule for Hendrick a few years ago. And he certainly made enough starts last season to not be a rook. Is this a road course thing or a rain thing? Or is it because he has a rookie’s attitude?
— Corby773

A: It’s a road course thing, Corby. Specifically, it’s a Circuit Gilles Villeneuve thing. See, this street course isn’t your typical NASCAR-sanctioned track. It’s certainly more technical than any other course the Nationwide or Cup circuit visits and, with a strong likelihood of rain on race day, which would precipitate the use of rain tires, NASCAR asked Kyle to throw the yellow stripes on the bumper.

I’m sure his comment pre-qualifying didn’t help his case, either. When asked how things were going to go in the race, he had this very Kyle-ish quip:

“It’s not too much fun. These cars aren’t made for this, so it’s just a fiasco. We’re making the best of what we got. I had windshield wiper problems, defogger problems, staying on course problems – problems overall.”

“If it’s dry [on race day], hopefully we can run alright and get up through there. I’m sure we’re not going to qualify well. If it rains tomorrow, we’re going to be pretty bad.”

That’s the spirit, Kyle.

And you are correct concerning his “level” of Nationwide Series competition. Busch ran a full season in what was then the Busch Series at HMS in 2004 and has run at least 14 of the 35 events in that series since (he’s on a full-time schedule this year).

I’ve been puzzled by this for a long time and finally decided to go straight to the top for a possible answer. During pit stops, the tire changer always seems to align the lugs with the studs and attach the wheel in one slick motion. How are they able to do this? Is the back side of the wheel configured in such a way as to make the wheel self-aligning?
— E.J. Macke, St. Louis, MO

The bullet-shaped hub and lots of practice are the keys to a successful pit stop.

A: I think the answer to your question involves the center hub, which can be seen here. Notice the pink highlights on it and its “bullet” shape. That hub is key to fixing the tire in place, which can then be given a little sideways nudge to fit the studs just right.

These pit crew guys do it so fast and so often that it’s as much a matter of feel as it is concentrating on making it fit right — it just does. Much like those who use a keyboard at work, we don’t have to devote time finding the right letter keys because our muscle memory just takes our fingers to the right spots. The same is true for a tire changer securing the tire into place. Helpful?

Now that the worst secret in the sport is official, where do you stand on [Brad] Keselowski’s move to Penske? And vice versa? Hendrick is a hard place to leave, but what choice did he have? To run NNS another two years? Take the money, Brad, and be thankful you’re been hired by Penske and not Hall of Fame!
— Debbie Masters

A: Good one. In short, I like the move. Once we get past all the glad handing, with talk of “the right resources,” “the right people,” “the best opportunity,” (all of which could very well be true), situations like these often come down to two factors: 1. The former employer simply didn’t have the necessary availability to keep a driver, while 2. The new employer did and was willing to pay for the services.

It seems that both of those were in play here. With Hendrick’s stable full and Stewart-Haas Racing’s outfit not able to secure the necessary sponsorship for a third ride, it was obvious that if Keselwoski wanted to make the jump to Cup (and what Nationwide Series driver doesn’t?) now was the time.

“Mr. Hendrick said he would keep working on different scenarios,” Keselowski said on Monday. “And he did. He worked as hard as he could. He told me he worked much harder on my deal than he worked on Jimmie Johnson’s or any [other drivers] to keep me in his camp. It became obvious it was just not in the cards.”

Enter Penske, an organization on the rebound with one driver solidly in the Chase and with a fully-funded ride looking for the right guy to bring said ride back to its place of prominence. At this point in his career, Keselowski could hardly say no — so he didn’t.

Mike Helton was interviewed during the Montreal NNS race and said we won’t see Cup cars with rain tires soon. I didn’t think this race was that bad as some say. Once the track was dry, the racing was real good. The problem lies in that these type of cars aren’t made to race in the rain. The high center of gravity and lack of downforce just doesn’t allow it. Let’s hope Helton stays true to his word.
— Jeff May, Phoenix, AZ

A: Quite frankly, I thought it was a poor excuse for a motorsports event of any kind. 31 caution laps … in a 76-lap race? Four damn hours long? And not four hours of good ol’ fashioned stock car racing — no … four hours of rain, slop, turns that appeared coated with ice, and NASCAR’s throwing cautions every time someone skidded off course (which basically seemed like every lap).

And it’s not like this rain-tire experiment was a complete and total failure just last weekend. Last year’s race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve wasn’t much better in my book. You may disagree, but I don’t want a race decided by faulty de-foggers, OK? Spins everywhere, every lap. Much like this year, it was not a race, but a battle for survival. Miss the inevitable spin coming in Turn 2 and you’re good … for one more lap. No thanks.

It wasn’t long ago (like a few weeks, maybe) that I was all about devoting ample test time to developing a rain tire that would work in the Cup Series. Not so anymore. Racing 800 horsepower cars in the rain is like playing golf in a thunderstorm — as much as you may want to go out, it just ain’t a good idea. And at some point, something really bad is going to happen.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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09/03/2009 10:42 AM

Give me a break, Kyle never does anything that does not give him attention. If what he says is true and he wanted his crew to have a piece of the trophy, why didn’t he ask Bass to make up one and cut it up. Let’s hope before too many more years he learns some mannors. He sure don’t have any now.

09/03/2009 11:07 AM

You do realize i hope that the poor races in the rain are only due to the fact that NASCAR refuses to get their head out of the sand and develop tires , techniques , and proceedures . Road course racing has been run in the rain for over a century with no particular downside to the quality of the races . The NASCAR fiascos are because they only do it once or twice per year , if even that . Give the drivers some time in those cars to figure out how to drive them in the rain , give Goodyear some time to develop a tire for those cars , give the teams some time to develop wipers , anti-fogging , suspensions , etc . for wet racing and you’d have a perfectly good show . But since they only do this once or twice a year , nobody really has a handle on it yet .

09/03/2009 11:14 AM

Agreed. No more wet racing with these cars.
Good for Kyle. And FYI, his crew were ecstatic when they received their Nashville trophy pieces, presented to them at the NNS race at ORP in Indianapolis.

09/03/2009 11:54 AM

The only reason Kyle “Crybaby” Busch is donating the money to the Nashville Alliance for Public Education is that he knows he showed his ass by smashing the guitar in Victory Lane. Kyle thought he could emulate true rockstars like Pete Townsend of The Who….The only problem is Kyle…Pete Townsend is truly a bonified Rock Star….You Kyle are not. This whiner donating money for showing his ass, is the same as Michael Vick donating money to Animal Rights Groups….too little too late…Sad

09/03/2009 12:22 PM

I’ll be the first to say that I am in no way, shape or form a Shrub fan, but we should look past whatever his reason was, or what some may perceive as his reason, for donating the money and be appreciative of the fact that there are a lot of little kids who are going to be getting new guitars in their schools bands. Kudos Kyle, but believe me, that’s about the only time I’ll say something nice like this about you.

Kevin in SoCal
09/03/2009 01:06 PM

Marilyn, I’m sure you did some stupid things when you were 24 years old. He had just won the race, and he wanted to share the trophy with his crew. We’ve all seen rock stars smash their guitars for fun so he thought it would be fun, too. Looking back, I’m sure he realizes it wasnt a smart thing to do, but again, it was a spur of the moment thing. Hindsight is 20/20.

don mei
09/03/2009 01:45 PM

OK…enough Montreal bashing! I was there and if whomever was responsible for operating the event, did it properly we would have been out of there way before the rain came. First, the event started thirty minutes late but more importantly, at least half the yellow flags were for one car events…a spin or a car coming to a stop on track because of a broken gearbox, motor, etc. There were THREE at the hairpin where I was sitting in the grandstand. Not a single one of them required anything more than a yellow flag at the corner itself (local yellow is the term). In one case, I think it was the Wallace kid (who was personally responsible for at least four cautions) coasted to a stop in the hairpin. Immediately a fire engine,ambulance and wrecker drove onto the track! The wrecker was the only one needed and the fire engine blocked him! Full course yellow was absolutely absurd. Had the race been properly administered, there would have been at most ten laps under caution and we would have been out of there before the rain.

Its a great city and the Canadian fans are terrific and really into their motorsports…not just Nascar.

09/03/2009 02:22 PM

Brad Keselowski turns his back to the one who got hin where he is. He wasn’t much of a driver until Dale Jr. brought in uncle Tony Sr to school him. I think he needs another year or two in Nationwide with Tony. Just as soon as he won at Talladega he thought he was good enough to be one of the big boys. The dega win was a fluke. He didn’t earn it. Penske will find out what he is made of when he enters cup racing. Another thought maybe Dale Jr. needs to get back with Uncle Tony and learn how to drive again and find his pit.

09/03/2009 07:21 PM

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09/03/2009 07:37 PM

Kez is going back to Hendrick as soon as a seat is available. Jeff’s hurt and who knows how long MM wants to race.

Kez should do well in CUP. JR Motorsports did its job. Groomed a driver for the big time. That says a lot.

No more road course racing in the rain until NASCAR agrees to local yellows.

09/03/2009 08:14 PM

Is this site now brought to us by ESPN? Every time I want to read comments here, there’s another friggin’ advertisement.
As admirable as it is, KB is just sucking up to improve his image/souvenir sales.

09/03/2009 08:50 PM

He’s still a snot nosed, booger eating punk.


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