Revealing what just may be the most profound look yet into the psyche of the mysterious enigma known as the Busch Brothers, big brother Kurt Busch offered this bit of advice to his younger sibling after last Saturday’s Pepsi 400 in Daytona.
“For Kyle, the advice I would give is to understand that you’re out there working as an individual,” he said. “Hendrick is fielding your cars. There’s not much you can do to help the other guys, so therefore, there’s not much you should do to expect help from the other guys.”
That little bit of family wisdom was handed down on the heels of Kyle’s bitter defeat by .005 seconds to Jamie McMurray, a loss that ended with Busch none too happy about the way in which he was “pushed” to the finish line by his own organization.
“There were a few opportunities for them [teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears] to get behind me at the end,” Kyle said, failing miserably at hiding that aforementioned bitterness. “[Gordon] especially, we were running there behind him and he got passed by [McMurray]. I was on the inside lane and Jeff was clear a lap later and could have helped us and gotten three Hendrick cars in a row, but chose not to do so. He chose to stay up high and help a Roush car.”
Now, while I just may be a simplified country boy who enjoys, among other things, carp fishing with a shotgun, I was always brought up under the notion that “you reap what you sow.” If Kyle Busch’s teammates were unwilling to help him, well, they must have had their reasons for hanging him out to dry. One could speculate on why they did it, but the real reasons are those that only people who are around Kyle all the time, his teammates, know for sure. In other words, “You make your bed, you lie in it.”
Since I’m throwing cliches around so well today, and I’ve already covered farming and home tidiness skills, I might as well include social graces, too, in the form of, “First impressions are lasting impressions.” Let’s face it; other than Kurt’s early career (after Jimmy Spencer knocked out his tooth and before he had his ears fixed) which worked as a perfect impression of Alfred E. Newman, the Busch brothers have simply not been known for leaving favorable impressions on people in their wake. Just ask Jack Roush.
“I am not interested in Kyle Busch,” Roush said after being asked if he would pursue the supposedly “hottest” free agent on the market. “I’ve been there and I’ve done that.”
For the record, and to appease the untold hordes of Busch brothers’ fans out there (Ow! I just bit my tongue!), I am in no way questioning their ability to drive a racecar. What I am saying is that, in Kyle’s case, his teammates, for whatever reasons they may have, feel they are no longer obligated to help someone that has a reputation of not being a team player unless it is to his own advantage. And frankly, I don’t blame them.
It has been suggested that the lack of team help directed at Kyle last Saturday night was, in fact, ordered from higher up within the organization. I personally do not believe that was the case. That would indicate some sort of “revenge” being sought against Kyle, and that just doesn’t make sense; why would Rick Hendrick want to collect “revenge” on a driver he’s kicking out the door?
No, that theory doesn’t fly for a number of reasons, the least of which is the fact that Kyle is a solid Chase contender. Kyle, unlike big brother Kurt, didn’t suddenly up and dump his owner for a more lucrative contract. On the contrary, Kyle was merrily driving along in his career without a care in the world. I’d bet that even when the announcement was made that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was available, Kyle didn’t have a clue that it was HIS job at HMS that was in jeopardy… not anyone else’s. No, it was HMS that had had enough of him, for whatever reason, and they decided that he was now expendable.
Let’s all be honest here. If anyone was to be let go at HMS, nine out of 10 people would have said Mears. Speaking from a raw talent and production standpoint, of course Kyle is ranked above Casey when it comes to pure statistics. So, there are clearly other reasons Kyle is suddenly available… reasons that only those that work with him are privy to.
Before I end this weekly diatribe, and in an unabashed attempt to find favor with the Brian Almighty, I want to, in some way, liken NASCAR to the NFL, and I’m going to use Kurt’s advice for Kyle to do it. (And hopefully, in the process, expose the apparently flawed thinking that produces the reputation the Busch brothers endure).
Imagine, if you will, the following advice from Peyton Manning to little brother Eli after suffering a few sacks.
“For Eli, the advice I would give is to understand that you’re out there working as an individual,” Peyton said. “The Giants are fielding your teammates. There’s not much you can do to help the other guys, so therefore, there’s not much you should do to expect help from the other guys.”
Defensive line, dinner is served!
Stay off the wall,