Editor’s Note: This article originally ran on June 1st, 2006. Like what you’re reading? Click back to Frontstretch every Thursday beginning February 1st for brand new editions of Voices From the Heartland. That is, if Jeff hasn’t gotten himself knocked off by the NASCAR Powers That Be by then!
I watched on TV in March as Jeff Gordon shoved Matt Kenseth at Bristol. I saw last year at New Hampshire as Robby Gordon threw his helmet at Michael Waltrip‘s car. I watched from row five at Bristol again when Ward Burton threw his heat shields at Dale Earnhardt Jr. back in the day. Any fan can recite a list of memorable heated exchanges, whether it is on the local dirt track or the greatest superspeedways. Emotion defines NASCAR; it’s a big part of why so many love the sport so much.
Usually, that outburst of emotion, while maybe not the best example of sportsmanship, was somewhat justified, as in the examples above. Close quarter racing is going to result in some bumping and banging; sometimes you’re the bumper, sometimes the bumpee.
With that thought in mind, I must say that Kyle “The Child” Busch‘s outburst last Sunday after his accident with Casey Mears was the most childish and pathetic thing I have seen in all of sports in a long time.
Now, “Child” Busch did not cause this accident; his car simply just didn’t get by it. For those who didn’t see it, Busch was caught up in something that was beyond any human’s control once the No. 42 car of Mears broke loose while running by itself and started to spin off turn 4. While I do understand Busch’s frustration at being an innocent victim of a wreck not of his making, the directing of that frustration at Mears just baffles my mind. If someone were to make a list of the most immature acts EVER, in ALL of PROFESSIONAL sports, “The Child” throwing his HANS device at Mears upon exiting his car would be right up there with Mike Tyson and the ear biting episode.
There is a reason kids play college ball before going pro. There is a reason the Major Leagues have a farm system. There is SUPPOSED to a reason NASCAR has a Busch Series. That reason is to learn a little maturity. Unfortunately in NASCAR, the “farm system” has broken down, and “Child” Busch is a shining example.
Nothing matters at the top level of the sport other than winning and producing top fives. That translates into money, and money is what it is all about. Drivers are getting younger and younger and given top-notch equipment right out of the gate. If they don’t meet increasingly higher expectations within an increasingly shorter amount of time, they are chewed up and spit out. Any stupid fool at that age can be fearless and drive a car fast. Most of us did that in our younger days. Ask yourself this question, though; are you a better driver now than when you were 20? All you needed was a little more experience to get you the maturity and knowledge you needed to drive by the rules.
I’m not saying that the Busch brothers aren’t good drivers. What I am saying is that they are both prone to extremely childish and immature outbursts that make them appear as idiots. Even their own colleagues have no respect for them. Could this be some kind of new “business plan” the Busch family has mapped out for their children? “You’re real good, kids! Go out there and make an ass of yourself! Make us proud!”
Now, I realize that there are a couple of Busch fans out there (and I mean that literally, a couple) that will write every time a column like this comes out and say that us media are just picking on them, and it is no big deal. Believe it or not, I for one actually get tired of writing about the Busches, but their behavior makes it soooo easy! Just when you think they couldn’t possibly do anything dumber than what the last incident was, they go and take their ridiculousness to another level. The most amazing thing about it is that it’s not just one Busch that continually sinks to new lows, but both of them! How do you logically explain that?
Personally, I liked Rusty Wallace’s idea that came out this week when asked about the Busch/Mears incident.
“If I had been there I’d have stopped, backed up and got out of the car, and smacked Busch’s face off,” Wallace said. “Then I would have gotten back in the car and took off.”
I would have loved to have seen the look on “Child” Busch’s face had Casey slammed on the brakes and got out of the car right then and there!
If the Busch brothers, especially Kyle “The Child,” are any indication as to the future of NASCAR, then by all means, you can have it for yourselves. I want to watch professionals, not amateurs. Kyle may have the ability to drive in the big leagues, but he doesn’t have the maturity.
Stay off the wall,