Kurt Busch just wants to be the guy to take down Hendrick Motorsports, doesn’t he? If he doesn’t, it sure seems that way.
Earlier in the season, he put it upon himself to be the rival to Jimmie Johnson‘s throne – that’s not working out so well – and now Jeff Gordon‘s on his hit list. Hell, if Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts running up front more often, he may find himself unwittingly in Busch’s crosshairs. Beware, Junior.
Oh yeah, there’s also that whole “pretty boys” thing, too.
Gordon admitted that he overdrove the corner in which he got into Busch. Gordon had a very good car for the first half of the race and then got stuck back in traffic after a pit stop, simply getting into Busch trying to make up too much ground too soon. All the contact did was knock Busch out of the groove, and he only lost one position.
No harm, no foul, right? After all, it’s Martinsville. Contact happens.
Apparently not. Busch hooked Gordon on his left quarterpanel and sent Gordon towards the inside retaining wall. And no, don’t even for a second believe Busch when he said over the radio that he was trying to let Gordon go. If you’re going to make it that blatant, just own up to it.
Gordon’s day was ruined, and Busch was lucky that Gordon didn’t retaliate for the contact when Busch passed his wounded racecar late in the race. Maybe he’s going to pounce when Busch isn’t expecting it.
It was reported that Busch signed his contract extension with Penske nine days after it was revealed that Kasey Kahne was going to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. Just a coincidence, right? After all, there weren’t any public reports that linked Busch to Hendrick, and quite frankly, he wasn’t seen as a candidate, at least publicly. No one would start to connect the dots themselves if Busch hadn’t presented them with the paper with the dots on it.
Busch’s “pretty boys” comment was in reference to the contact that he and Johnson had at Loudon. That looked even more innocuous than the contact Gordon initiated at Martinsville. The two drivers were racing for the win. Then Johnson and Busch got together at Pocono, with Busch getting the worst of it.
“I like to race the cars and race ’em hard, race ’em smart,” Busch commented. “We’ll talk about racing, because that’s what we should be talking about. If the roles were reversed, I’d have been hung… lynched at the gate, you know, for wrecking the four-time champion. But if the roles really were reversed, I wouldn’t have bumped the No. 48 in that fashion, and both of us would have continued on and ended up with good results.”
There was more.
“[Roger Penske] really helped me mature as a driver on and off the track, and, you know, if I even thought that I had a shot of jumping in that No. 5 car, a pretty boy named Kasey Kahne got picked over me, so that could answer your question as well.”
If you don’t want people to think about obscure and previously unthought of angles, you don’t bring them up. Especially in a press conference. Going after Johnson, Gordon, Junior and in a lesser instance, Mark Martin? Fine. But dropping Kahne’s name? Odd.
With his comments and actions over the season, it’s obvious that Busch desperately does want to be the guy to conquer HMS. You’ve got to appreciate Busch’s candor in taking on the sport’s biggest team and his desire to knock the four-time champion off his perch.
But the way that Busch has gone about doing that is making him look downright petulant. Since joining Penske, Busch has undergone a pretty significant transformation, and it looked like he had the corporate pitchman role down pat – something that the Hendrick drivers do very well, too.
Now, Busch is just making it look personal.