There have been plenty of rivalries in the history of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. Richard Petty and Bobby Allison had their moments of animosity in the late 1960s and early `70s, and there was a time in the `80s when it would not have been wise to invite Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace to the same cocktail party.
NASCAR is a kinder, gentler and (some would say) blander sport these days, however, and aside from Carl Edwards occasionally attempting to strangle Kevin Harvick, it’s tough to find a real, lasting rivalry of any kind in the Sprint Cup garage.
Kyle Busch wants to change all that.
Since his departure from Hendrick Motorsports following the 2007 season, Busch has made no secret of his desire to outshine his replacement in the Hendrick camp, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Busch derives great satisfaction from outrunning Earnhardt’s #88 Chevrolet, and has done so with great regularity in the last two seasons. He also seems to enjoy lobbing verbal firebombs at the Earnhardt camp from time to time, saying recently that fans and media members focus too much attention on a single driver (Earnhardt) who doesn’t seem to win many races.
Friday at Dover, Busch tossed another molotov cocktail at NASCAR’s most popular driver, suggesting that Earnhardt -– and not deposed crewchief Tony Eury, Jr. -– is to blame for the #88 team’s lackluster performance.
“(Earnhardt) is the one who brought that crewchief in,” said Busch. “He’s the one who pulled so hard to bring Tony Eury Jr. in. It looked like it was working there in the beginning, (but) it hasn’t worked since the summer of last year.
Busch said new crewchief Lance McGrew “has got his hands full having to deal with what’s going on. If Junior doesn’t run well, then (McGrew) is going to be the problem. It’s never Junior. It’s always the crewchief.”
He also said Hendrick has no choice but to do whatever it takes “to make the most popular driver in the sport competitive. Whatever makes him better, I guess.”
Shrubby’s comments are guaranteed to ignite another war of words between the Busch and Earnhardt fan camps, whose disdain for each other boils just below the surface, even on the best day. That may actually be a good thing for a sport that badly needs a legitimate, “we hate those guys” rivalry to add some spice to the soup.