Kyle Busch had some choice words upon existing the car at Dover International Speedway following the Gander RV 400 this Monday (May 6).
.@KyleBusch scored his 11th straight top 10 finish, but he doesn’t care.
“The package sucks. No f*cking question about it. It’s terrible. All I can do is bitch about it and fall on deaf ears and we’ll come back with the same thing it in the fall.” 😳
— Davey Segal (@DaveyCenter) May 6, 2019
On Friday, Busch also said that the cars were going way too fast in the corners, and that is what usually leads to uncompetitive racing. Busch noted some safety concerns as well, given this track’s history of delivering some hard hits if right-side tires go down and the blocked track that can result in a wreck on a restart. These kind of comments aren’t exactly new territory for Busch, but is this type of callout post race welcome candor from a competitor or just un-constructive criticism during what is a pivotal year for NASCAR as a whole?
Don’t Disrespect Kyle Busch’s Personality or Knowledge
Busch has received a lot of flack about what he said from fans, media members and NASCAR. Sure, some of it might have been Busch blowing off steam. He is known to be very frustrated when he loses. However, Busch has been critical of this package from the very beginning, even though he has three victories this season with the new package.
Remember back in 2007 when the Car of Tomorrow (COT) was introduced? The first race that particular chassis ran, Busch went to victory lane. On national television, Busch stated that he wasn’t a big fan of the car, that he hated driving it and said it “sucked.”
Looking back on that statement 12 years ago, I think most people would agree with Busch’s assessment of the COT. It wasn’t a very good car. It wasn’t a package that was ideal for the fans, and after six full seasons of the COT, it was replaced by what we now know as the Generation 6 (Gen6) car. Maybe the drivers and teams know more than the fans do at this point.
Busch was correct 12 years ago, why wouldn’t he be correct today?
As we go deeper into the schedule with the current rules package, the racing will change. Teams will find even more downforce to put on the race cars, and the second half of the season may feature a completely different look than the first half of the season.
If you talk to most people about what they thought of the Dover race, they’ll say the first two stages were good and the final stage was boring. Maybe that is a by-product of what we’re going to see in the future — that as we run along, this product will get worse and worse. Is it possible Busch saw that?
Busch is one of the few drivers left in NASCAR who actually has a personality. Most people hate him for it, and while I don’t always agree with what he does, I respect him because he is himself. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and loves to win. The last thing I would want to do is watch Busch sink into the same mode we’ve seen other drivers do and not give his opinion on something. It’s refreshing to watch drivers speak their minds.
At the end of the day, Busch should be able to speak his mind freely. It’s up to NASCAR and the fans to make up their minds with this package. What Busch says really shouldn’t sway the fans or NASCAR if they really believe in this package. However, I doubt this is the last time we hear about this package being terrible. I think most fans, drivers and, yes, even media members, agree with Busch’s assessment. They just don’t have the guts to come out and say it like Busch does. -Clayton Caldwell
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
For a little over a decade, most drivers remain silent and simply go along to get along. Even when they speak out mildly — as Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin have — they end up on the receiving end of secret, undisclosed fines. And that was just a few short years ago. Even Tony Stewart, who was quick to call out Goodyear or suggest Figure Eight racing instead of restrictor plates, has softened his tone in recent years.
There was a time when drivers would speak out about something and they were chastised for it — though it was done in private, not public. There are stories of a driver on the receiving end of a Bill France, Jr.-reminder of, “NASCAR was here before you, it’ll be here long after you’re gone…,” after a come to William meeting if France deemed the criticism less than constructive.
We are at a different time in the sport now, however, where the “it’ll be here long after you’re gone” piece might be countered with, “Ehhhh, I don’t know about that.” So it’s understandable why such comments might be met with some pushback.
In this instance, however, context is important.
It’s the mic in the driver’s face the moment after 400 laps of frustrating passing despite a car being superior to the one in front of it. It’s also supported when other drivers and owners chime in saying the same thing — almost as an “I told you so” rebuttal to what is then defended breathlessly on any NASCAR-sponsored outlet. One well-known voice was quick to pass it off because Busch didn’t win. This has now morphed into, “If passing isn’t hard, why should we care when you do it?”
I might be in the minority, but taking that stance isn’t exactly the hill I’d want to die on.
This is the kind of obtuse reasoning that found the sport meandering from 2008 to this point, one of the most pivotal years in its history. The package that was deemed to be the answer to all ills hasn’t quite delivered the last few races — outside of Talladega Superspeedway, which was one of the better superspeedway races we’ve seen in the last three years (cars need to go 200 miles per hour and have throttle response).
Early this season, there was some cautious optimism as things appeared to be improving, but that may have been simply due to unfamiliarity with the package. Dover proved one unavoidable truth – faster and sustained corner speeds don’t make for better racing.
I remember back in 2000, after the Daytona 500, the package used that year provided less than spectacular racing. It took five of the fastest Fords in the series, four of them now Hall of Famers, to line up and coordinate an overtaking of a lone, essentially-unsponsored Pontiac on only two fresh tires vs. their four to make a finish out of it. Afterward, Dale Earnhardt Sr. told a group of reporters, “That’s the worst racing I’ve seen at Daytona in a long, long time,” and as he walked away, “Mr. Bill France Sr. probably roll over in his grave if he seen that deal.”
What ultimately resulted later that year at Talladega was one of the greatest restrictor plate/superspeedway races ever and Earnhardt’s final career victory. Given the number of memes I routinely see go around claiming that Busch is today’s Intimidator, his comments were simply the evolution of Earnhardt’s Daytona observations — if a bit more colorful. -Vito Pugliese