The Frontstretch: Kyle Busch: There's Nothing More Dangerous Than A Man With Nothing Left To Lose by Vito Pugliese -- Tuesday July 17, 2007

Go to site navigation Go to article

Kyle Busch: There's Nothing More Dangerous Than A Man With Nothing Left To Lose

The Voice of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Tuesday July 17, 2007


“You better not try to stand in my way
As I’m a walking out the door,
Take this job and shove it
I ain’t workin’ here no more.”
-Chorus to "Take This Job And Shove It", by Johnny Paycheck

Those lyrics immediately came to mind when digesting the recent bizarre behavior exhibited by Kyle Busch. While his public statements aren’t exactly as outlandish as, say, Tony Stewart accusing his teammate of backing into him at 200 MPH, they do give one pause for reflection: What the heck is up with this kid? It doesn’t appear he’s trying to make the best of a difficult situation, wooing a sponsor, or attempting to audition for his next ride.

He looks like a guy trying to get canned from his job instead of quitting, just so he can collect unemployment.

To Kyle’s credit, he has maintained a modicum of decorum over the last few weeks, taking a well-earned break from rearranging the body panels of every car in the No. 5 team’s inventory. Since the announcement of his departure from Hendrick Motorsports after 2007 this June, Busch has responded; on the Cup side, he’s snagged four Top 10 finishes in the last six races, finishing with no results worse than 13th place. A particularly strong outing in the Daytona Busch Series race two weeks ago was especially remarkable, as Kyle dominated the event in his Delphi Chevrolet en route to a trip to Victory Lane.

That thrill of victory – and respect of his team – came to a screeching halt for Busch during the Nextel Cup race later that evening. After doing his best impression of Mark Martin getting nipped at the finish line, the young man could have continued the charade of a lame duck employee by simply conceding defeat, thanking the team and sponsors, and focusing on the next race in Chicago.

But he didn’t.

The first person to draw Busch’s ire was Jeff Gordon. Initially upset with getting little in the way of help the final few laps from anyone other than his brother Kurt, Kyle approached Gordon as he was preparing to be interviewed on television. What looked to be a simple friendly wave from Gordon following a pat on the shoulder from Kyle quickly degenerated into a deleted scene from "Fatal Attraction" instead. Busch was taken aback that Gordon didn’t stop the television interview to talk to him. After all, Greg Biffle had done so in the past…why not Jeff?

Seems the only thing missing was a broiled bunny in the mailbox and Kyle screeching, "I will NOT be ignored!"

Jilted lover Busch was further incensed that both the Nos. 24 and 48 were nowhere to be found in the closing laps. While it is true that Jeff Gordon was tucked neatly behind Jaimie McMurray with a few laps to go, Gordon was, in fact, trying to win the race, not play “Mikey and Junior” from 2001 just to get his teammate a win. Jimmie Johnson was also shuffled out of line, and anything short of a 150 HP shot of nitrous oxide was not going to get him to the back of the No. 5 by the end of the race.

In response to what he believed were treasonous acts, Busch declared, “I’m not helping anybody but myself and this team winning races. I’m not helping Jeff Gordon. I’m not helping Jimmie Johnson or Casey Mears. They are able to go back and see what I run and that kind of stuff. But for me, it’s just to go out there and to try to win races and keep winning with my name.”

He has also made comments suggesting that if his car started blowing engines, he would realize something was up.

Uh, yeah. I guess so, Fredo. Didn’t you learn never to take sides against the family?

It gets worse. During the USG Durock 300 Busch race at Chicagoland, crew chief Alan Gustafson made the call to pit while leading during a late-race caution. Busch voted to stay out, as eventual winner Kevin Harvick would do. The new rubber was of little use while mired in traffic, and Busch was only able to make it back up to 5th position. When asked afterwards of how he and Gustafson would rectify future differences of opinions, he was very curt with his reply: "We only have about four more months to worry about that."

Guys going through a divorce are less testy than this kid.

Although Kyle has ceased the practice of heaving his head and neck restraint at passing cars on the track, he has taken to making both cryptic and overt remarks regarding the team he is still contracted to drive for, one who pays him quite a hefty salary to do so. Even Rick Hendrick, who normally doesn’t comment on driver dissatisfaction issues (mainly because he never has to) stated matter-of-factly, "It just doesn’t make any sense to me. We’re working as hard as we can."

This scenario would leave one to conclude only one thing: Busch is trying to get himself fired.

There is nothing more dangerous than a man with nothing left to lose, and Kyle Busch appears to be "that guy." Like the Germans in full retreat during World War II, he’s going scorched-earth; pulling up the railroad spikes, setting towns ablaze, and blowing up every bridge between him and anything remotely related to the Hendrick organization.

The funny thing is, what happened to the 22-year-old shouldn’t have been a surprise; Busch has known for quite sometime that he was the odd man out at Hendrick Motorsports. He’s not tight with Jeff or Jimmie, nor does he fit the mold of what we’ve come to know as a Hendrick driver. He does in the sense that fans boo him unmercifully. He’s even accepted that, saying, "My perception has been horrible since I came into this sport, so it doesn’t even really matter any more."

Those are comments from a man who’s truly on the edge.

As with any employee that is nearing the end of the line, there is always the fear that he may become a cancer within the organization. Well, Busch has left nothing to doubt by publicly airing his dirty laundry, lambasting the ownership, his teammates, and now his crew chief.

In the process of solidifying his persona as a petulant and arrogant twentysomething, Busch is also creating a distraction for a race team that has since seen two of its top assets in Chad Knaus and Steve Letarte sent home for six weeks, their teams docked 100 points each for serious infractions. In the midst of the summer meatgrinder leading up to The Chase, as Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, and Roush Racing are gaining momentum, Busch mouthing off and whining is what’s only going to put his own team further behind.

You can almost hear Kyle’s desperate pleas from here: "Come on, Rick…fire me. You know you want to…come on…it’s only going to get woooorrrrse…"

Now, it’s no secret that the Busch Brothers aren’t exactly the front runners in T-shirt, hat, and diecast sales. However, whereas Kurt has a clever way of employing adjectives, superlatives, colloquialisms, and other overenunciated ten cent words when conveying his displeasure, Kyle is blunt. In his opinion, the car of tomorrow "sucks." His motors are going to "start blowing up."

And clearly, Jeff Gordon isn’t nice like Greg Biffle.

While there may be a method to Kyle’s madness – an attempt to gain an early release from his contract to start anew – his actions are doing little to endear himself to already irritated fans or potential sponsors. Getting the pink slip from HMS might sound like the best idea ever at the moment, but it very well could backfire on him if he doesn’t start acting with a certain degree of decorum. With that in mind, there is some irony for the way Busch is acting in that his pit board sign is Kyle from the animated comedy, "South Park". To quote Cartman, one of Kyle’s friends with whom he is less than chummy:

"Kyle. Seriously…"

Do you know which struggling Nextel Cup team is ready to purchase Ginn Racing’s No. 13, buying its way into a weekly starting spot? If you don’t know the answer, it’s because you’re not getting our Frontstretch newsletter…and why not? It takes two seconds to sign up, and it’s absolutely FREE! Don’t waste another minute and click here to start getting even more news, commentary, and special features from your favorite Frontstretch contributors.

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 ‘Sold’ Off
Tech Talk with Tony Gibson: Taking Stock Of Danica Patrick In Year Two
Vexing Vito: Three Drivers In Need of a Role Reversal
Going By the Numbers: Top-10 NASCAR Variety Hard To Come By In…
Truckin’ Thursdays: Lessons Learned Just Two Races In
Fantasy Insider: Team Revelations For NASCAR’s Short Tracks



©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Robert Eastman
07/18/2007 02:38 AM

The problem with Kyle is, he has everything to lose. When he first started in NASCAR, someone stated that Kyle would end his career racing back at Las Vegas short track. I’m starting to believe it.
Can family or friends (if he has any) talk any sense into this immature young man? Not only is he saying the COT sucks (and by implication NASCAR sucks), but he is now saying that his car owner and his team sucks (and by implication his sponsors suck).
Why would any car owner or sponsor want him in their car, no matter how talented he is? For Kyle to think that he is putting himself in a good position to negotiate a contract with a new car owner and new sponsor shows how little understanding he has. No sponsor wants to spend $20 million per year, so that they can be embarrassed by their “celebrity spokesperson.” Obviously Rick Hendrick, the brilliant businessman knows this, and that is why he pushed Kyle out in favor of Dale Jr.
Attention, Mr. Kyle Busch, listen-up! You didn’t lose your job because Dale Jr. can out- drive you. You lost your job because Dale Jr. is more likable. Dale Jr. commands respect, so he can command “BIG DOLLARS!” BIG DOLLARS make the race cars go “roundy round” at the BIG RACES TRACKS! DAaaahhh!
Kyle it’s time to grow up! Quit using Tony (and your brother) as your “role-models!’

M. B. Voelker
07/18/2007 06:16 AM

Why do people expect Kyle to be grateful to an owner who, after publicly stating “There is no room at the inn,” dumped him for a driver whom he was outperforming in every way?

Why do people think that he should lay down to be walked on then get up smiling and gushing about how wonderful it is to have footprints on his spine?

While Kyle does need to get himself under control so that he can channel his anger into the energy needed to walk out of Hendrick with the last Nextel Cup trophy under his arm, that anger is entirely justified by the circumstances.

Anyone who is tempted to blast Kyle for being mad needs to think a minute.

How would you feel if you were excelling at your job, if your boss had just publicly stated that he had no need to hire anyone new, and then announced that you were going to be replaced by a guy who was cooler and more popular than you are but who was behind you in the performance of your work?

Kyle probably isn’t handling his anger in the wisest possible way, but he has every right to be mad about the situation.

William T.
07/18/2007 07:48 AM

MB — beautifully stated!!

I wish the media would get off this kids back and let him race.

William T.
07/18/2007 08:04 AM

Also…..I would like to point out the fact that this kid is still young. How many dumb ass things did all of you (me included) do when you were in your early twenties?!?!

He still has a lot to learn, and he eventually will. leave him alone already….

07/18/2007 09:17 AM

WT…MB… AGREE,AGREE,ARGEE….KID is the key word I think Big rick did’nt handle things well with him and with the perfect lil’ darlings of the media #24 & #48 , he (rick) was stressed a little by kyle but was willing to put up with… but not correct this kid as long as he was winning or placing well in the points BUT…when JR (biggest fan base in nascar) became available, well all bets were off and once again the $$$$$$ issue kicks in. I don’t think BIG RICK cares if JR wins a race…HE’s still laughing all the way to the bank….GO KYLE!!!!

Steve M.
07/18/2007 10:27 AM

William T, M.B., I agree with you also…Kyle is a hell of a driver and he’ll prove that to everyone in the not-too-distant-future by winning a championship (just not this year). However, the way he is currently acting makes me compare him to another driver who wishes he had the popularity of Jr., JG, JJ, etc…that being Jeremy Mayfield. If Kyle’s not careful he may find himself a teammate of a Toyota owner and not that of the rumored DEI. Word of advise to Kyle, look at where Jeremy is at and how well he’s doing…then do a 180 on your attitude and prove to the world that you are indeed a NASCAR cup driver, not a mama’s boy who isn’t getting his way.

07/18/2007 12:04 PM

Don’t forget folks it was Kyle who started the whole discord with Hendrick when he let it be known in the negotiating process that he was shopping around. What owner wouldn’t then start looking at other available talent. I’d trade Shrub for Junior any day of the week. While some say they were making stupid mistakes at 22, HE shouldn’t be. Too many publicists, business managers etc. Where are his parents? If he is just a kid as some proclaim, his Dad needs to ‘kick his ass’. He needs to get back to racing.

James M
07/18/2007 12:23 PM

The previous post actually touches on part of the problem- the father. By all accounts, this guy is a real piece of work. Yeah, he has two boys driving in NASCAR, that’s great. But maybe a bit more emphasis on personal development might have been in order here.

Frank Emm
07/18/2007 12:43 PM

I think Kyle Busch has got agreat future and have no doubt that he will win at least one Championship,he needs to make sure that he signs with the right team.Ithink Childress is the best place for him,he will be in top notch equipment and I feel Richard is capable of bringing out the best of Kyle Busch while keeping his outbursts under control.

07/18/2007 02:38 PM

MBV – to answer your question of smiling while getting walked….so Kyle himself will look/sound/act better to future prospects. Right now he is burning everyone and everything. Not good to teams that may want him. They’re not going to want that extra baggage or have to plan for future anger management classes for the young laddie. I agree with Willian T. about his behavior to age relationship. I too was outspoken at 22 while at work and it got me nowhere. The old saying goes – “If you don’t like your job, quit. Otherwise, shut up”! That should apply to Kyle right now. Just smile and ride out the rest of the year. Happiness is the best revenge.

07/18/2007 04:30 PM

Its kinda hard to judge someone on the 15 seconds you see them on TV after they just got wrecked or fired for a guy who sells more hats. I think Kyle is doing a great job. As for both the busch’s reps. Just as nascar must have a Golden boys, they must also have whipping boys. I also think this move was a horrible mistake for JR. DEI has a stake in his rep. JR does good, DEI does good. Now Hendrick has no real stake in providing good cars to JR. Either, or he’s gonna make money. I really think your gonna see JR implode next year. Just look at how crappy Kyles cars are. Every lap he’s sideways. If he wern’t one of the top 5 drivers in nascar he’s be running in the back.

07/18/2007 06:14 PM

Shrub can wheel a car for sure ,and what I think he should be doing is showing how marketable he is and get on a good team and beat the crap out of the Hendricks gang.

07/18/2007 07:12 PM

Aircrewman and others are right on! Kyle is 6 times the driver Jr. ever thought of being. With an owner that would take the time to cool Kyle down but not throttle his gumption would have a multi cup champion in Kyle. I saw him race up here in MAINE at the OXFORD 250 and that boy can drive the pants off any car he is given.

07/18/2007 09:06 PM

anyone who gets the equipment, salary, and responsibility that kyle has should BE GROWN UP. give it a rest. he is a spoiled child that i wouldn’t let mow my lawn even if he is one of the best drivers out there.

07/18/2007 09:31 PM

Kyle is a racer with a racer’s heart. I am not interested in his words, just the driving. The kid can get it done. What else really matters on the race track.

I think most of the detractors are more interested in “be nice” and PC. Without guys like Kyle you would have no one to root against.

I like his brashness. He backs it up on the track.

07/18/2007 10:51 PM

The equiptment has made kyle the driver that he is. Jr. has been holding his own in underpowered cars that cant compair to the money that goes into hendricks fleet. wait till Kyle goes elswhere and see how many he wins

07/19/2007 08:03 AM

OK, now listen up,all you bow tie,blue oval,and ram heads, if Kyle goes to Toyota with their unlimitted buget, and engineering staf. This kid is going to dominate the sport much the same way Richard and Dale did in their respective reins as seven time champions. He has that kind of talent and drive. what is lacking is he is in serious need of a mentor. I think some of this started when Ricky H. was killed in the plane crash. He, it seemed helped Kyle deal with things better. There is another driver who burned a lot of bridges behind and before him,drove souped up field cars before he came to NASCAR and CART same tallent bad attitude. Robby Gordon ring a bell. Still they are more entertaining than the cookie cutter image NASCAR is now trying to pervay. You just got to have some “salt and pepper” in your diet besides all that“sugar and spice”.

07/19/2007 06:20 PM

I have said it before, and I will say it again. The Busch boys are nothing but Bodine brothers reincarnated. Ears and Birddog are two heels looking for a pair of shoes. I think they both got some loco weed mixed in their Wheaties, and I don’t care where he drives, as long as he is not parked in my driveway.

Contact Vito Pugliese