|Kyle was unhappy Sunday.|
Kyle Busch can say anything he wants, anytime he wants, about anyone he wants. Sunday’s post-race, in-car radio tirade was nothing new; the mercurial Joe Gibbs Racing driver has made a habit of such outbursts over the years.
It cannot, however, have been good for him, his team or its engine builder.
Busch dominated most of Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, leading the field for an incredible 302 of 400 laps. In the end, however, he came up short on fuel, pitting with just 10 laps remaining en route to a disappointing seventh-place finish. The incident clearly touched a raw nerve with Busch. He was a vocal critic of JGR’s decision to outsource their Sprint Cup engine program to Toyota Racing Development during the offseason, and has remained outspoken through a maddening season of engine-related failures and DNFs.
At the drop of the checkered flag Sunday, Busch unleashed a torrent of expletive-laden unhappiness, calling TRD “piece of s#*t mother@$%&ers” over his in-car radio. “Thanks a lot, TRD for @$%&ing up another one,” he said, prompting crew chief Dave Rogers to key his own microphone in an effort to block any further profanity.
“Yeah, nice try covering up the mic,” said Busch to Rogers seconds later. “Whatever.”
Busch was absolutely entitled to his anger. Losing a race he so thoroughly dominated was understandably upsetting, in the aftermath of a season filled with disappointment, underachievement and unhappiness.
He is far from alone in that regard, however.
Toyota Racing Development has supplied engines for six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries this season. Those six cars have suffered nine engine failures; either on race day or in practice or qualifying.
|Too many engine issues in 2012.|
By comparison, Hendrick Engines has supplied horsepower for seven cars in 2012. Those cars have suffered 17 engine failures; including four each for title contenders Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Both drivers have voiced unhappiness with those numbers, and rightly so. Unlike Busch, however, they have done so in the privacy of the transporter or the conference room, where teammates can speak openly and honestly with disgracing anyone publically. It’s also difficult to imagine either Gordon or Johnson calling anyone a “piece of s#*t mother@$%&er."
As a result, they are far more likely than Busch to find an actual solution to the problem.
For the record, any conversation that begins with one party being called a “piece of s#*t mother@$%&er” is destined to be counterproductive. Even when uttered in the heat of battle, that kind of language alienates people. After hearing Busch’s comments Sunday, no one at Toyota Racing Development thought, “how can we help that young man be more successful on the race track?” Negativity and name-calling damage relationships, and whether anyone admits it or not, Busch’s comments have damaged the working relationship between JGR and TRD.
Busch is currently preparing to negotiate a new, multi-year contract with Gibbs. That contract will be paid, at least in part, by Toyota. The automaker competes in NASCAR for one reason; to sell cars and trucks. Their willingness to continue making a multi-millionaire of a man who consistently criticizes their products and bad-mouths their personnel may not last forever.
Busch has the right to explode in expletive-laced anger whenever the mood strikes him. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing is an intense, emotional sport, and there are as many opportunities to lose control of one’s emotions as there are to lose control of the race car. Unfortunately, those outbursts damage race teams, and Busch knows it.
A few years ago, Busch said he regretted chastising his race team publically, knowing those comments to be hurtful and destructive. “I have been a negative influence on my team in the past,” he said, “and I regret that. Unfortunately, I’m an emotional person who sometimes says things before I think. Then I have to go back and try to apologize.
“I don’t want to be that person in the future,” said Busch. “I want to be better.”Sadly, that’s a battle Busch must continue to fight.