Monday, October 07, 2013

COMMENTARY: "New And Improved" Busch Faces Familiar Questions

There’s been plenty of talk in recent weeks about a “new and improved” Kyle Busch. But after a disaster of a day at Kansas Speedway Sunday, it remains to be seen whether the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is really new and improved, or just the same old product in shiny new packaging. 

Busch came to Kansas Speedway ranked third in the Sprint Cup championship standings, but suffered through the kind of competitive collapse that has marked his Chase efforts so many times in the past.  

He totaled his primary car in the opening minute of practice, and was so unhappy with the backup car that the team was forced to fly a new transmission to the speedway overnight.  

He wrecked Brad Keselowski in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, then engaged in a war of words with the defending Sprint Cup Series champion that ended with Keselowski vowing to exact revenge the following day. 

His Joe Gibbs Racing team struggled to clear pre-race inspection Sunday, making him the final driver to arrive on the starting grid. And once the green flag flew, he experienced three different off-track excursions during an afternoon that was anything but championship caliber. Busch tangled with Juan Pablo Montoya in the race’s middle stages while defending an attempted pass by an IndyCar-bound driver who has nothing to lose and rarely shies away from physical contact.  

"He won't be missed," declared Busch on his in-car radio, ignoring his own role in an incident that fellow title contenders Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson would have quickly backed away from, before it ever occurred. 

Busch crashed out for good on Lap 199, tangling with Brian Vickers and demolishing his No. 18 Toyota in a Turn Two SAFER barrier wallop that left him 34th at the drop of the checkered flag. 

"I have no idea what happened," said Busch afterward. "All I know is we're in Kansas, right?"  

Rather than address his team’s competitive struggles and his own lack of big-picture thinking, Busch chose instead to blame others, calling both Kansas Speedway and Goodyear's new multi-zone tire “the worst I've ever driven on. 

"You can't do anything unless you're out front," he complained. "I'd say it's pretty pathetic." 

Busch’s solid start to the 2013 Chase – second at Chicagoland and New Hampshire, fifth at Dover -- is now long gone. He leaves Kansas fifth in the championship standings, 35 points behind Kenseth and must now display a degree of focus and mental toughness that has not been part of his repertoire in the past.  

In 2008, he won eight regular-season races and led the points at the start of the Chase, only to fold like a house of cards en route to 10th in the final rundown. In 2011, he again entered the Chased ranked number one, but again suffered through poor performances and a NASCAR suspension for wrecking title contender Ron Hornaday, Jr., under caution in a meaningless (for Busch) Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Poor performances, questionable on-track decision making, unnecessary distractions and off-track feuds. It all seems so familiar.
Apparently, Busch’s competitors also see signs of another impending meltdown.
Lowe’s Chevrolet crew chief Chad Knaus commented today on Busch's penchant for off-track distraction, telling Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's The Morning Drive, "if you think Brad Keselowski is in Kyle Busch's head, you don't know how many other voices are in his head. He's got a lot of stuff going on in there, man."
"We'll try to get back in it,” vowed Busch after Sunday’s race. “We’ll try to work hard and see what falls our way. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."
“New and improved,” or “same old same old?”
Time will most certainly tell.


  1. Anonymous1:15 PM

    I think that was all Brad wanted to do on Saturday was get into Kyle's head, and he was successful.

  2. Like the mainstream media deals with our President, the NASCAR media deals with this guy. They try to paint him as something he most certainly is not. Shiney new package aside, he's still Kyle Busch and that means self-destructive narcissist.

  3. Anonymous2:10 PM

    Well written article and unfortunately for the 18 team, very true. Just compare Kyle's interview with Matt K's. Matt said that he was wrecking all day but brought the car home with a decent finish. Yesterday is proof that KB will never be a champion.

  4. Carol Jameson South Jersey2:49 PM

    Two words.....Zebra and Stripes.

  5. Perhaps the worst thing that came of Sunday, for Kyle Busch, was that Keselowski did not pay him back. That one remains on the table.

  6. You can only resell the same stuff so many times with 1 of those "New and Improved" or "Under New Management" labels on it to the masses before they wake up and realize it is the "Same Old, Same Old"!

  7. Carol Jameson South Jersey5:04 PM

    Not5for48......Then all that is left.....a yard sale.

    I have been saying for a long time, but no one listens to me. He's not changing anytime soon. He keeps proving me right.

  8. Steve Roberts5:20 PM

    I don't think anyone can argue the fact that he is a very talented driver. BUT. His older brother acts the same way. My guess is that's what they are made of..Go SOX

    1. I've been saying for years that much of what is commonly described as Kyle Busch's extraordinary talent is really the result of a driving style where his success in a particular on track maneuver is predicated by whether or not the drivers around him give way -- whether or not they are willing to risk being the one that ends up wrecked. We saw that four times this weekend: Bayne not giving way and getting rode into the wall. Keselowski not giving in and being wrecked. Montoya not stepping down and Kyle ending up in the infield. Edwards not yielding his real estate and Kyle ending up in the wall (taking Vickers with him).

      He's fast out front and a beast on the restart, but all he does is take, take, take. When others decided they are not going to let him take, he runs back in the pack or visits the care center.

    2. Anonymous2:32 AM

      Tony, Tony, Tony...good are on to something..Lest we not forget his rant against Logano and the bump he gave him for no reason...much like the other members of the bully club go to the nice guy to vent your self induced frustrations. Logano to his credit couldn't care less and relayed a message to tell him "whatever..tell him to shutup"..or something to that effect. It's always somebody else's fault with these guys. A leopard doesn't change his spots!

    3. Anonymous9:40 AM

      You know, thinking about it, I agree with you.

  9. Anonymous7:33 AM

    How many cautions did they have sunday? Maybe the tire was junk I have know clue why the media tv and radio jump anytime someone says a bad word about goodyear.

  10. Anonymous9:38 AM

    KyBu has a lot of talent, unfortunately, he just doesn't demonstrate much mental toughness or good decison making skills either - tangling with Kez and then with Montoya - when everyone knows Montoya will wreck anyone who gets in his way - well that's just dumb.

    Laughing at the "folded like a house of cads" -- I know you meant cards, but man, cad just so fits with KyBu's personality.

    1. Maybe he was using Boston accent where the "r" is silent!

      Montoya is driving for the Capt. next year in IndyCar and Cuz'n Carl drives for the same manufacturer. Was it a sort of payback or just unintentional rac'n deal.

      We will never know for sure.

  11. Geosez10:38 AM

    "same old product, shiny new package" Yep. Both of 'em. They've got the psychobabble and religious speak down pat -- older brother especially. I'd love to get a psychologist's take on that family. There are just flags there that I've seen first-hand. Having said that, they are both fearless drivers -- not always a good thing for their track-mates.

  12. Anonymous1:38 PM

    Why should you give him a break after all having been crashed out by Edwards for no apparat reason he should be all smiley-faced and cheerful.

    Moe pot stiring by the media is what i appears to be.

  13. Anonymous5:09 PM

    I think it's an indication of racing nowadays. I don't watch racing because I want to see somebody ride around and oollect points. I watch because I want to see the best drivers give it their best shot. Sometimes that leads to wrecks, other times spectacular passes that amaze. Seems like people do a lot of double speak when talking about Kyle or racing in general. They want more excitement but hate aggressive driving. They also ignore whiners as big as Kyle Busch like Stewart and Harvick. Last I checked Stewart has won a title and now Harvick is back to being a title contender. Both are loved by the media who ignore their radio rants, stupid hypocritical comments, rough driving and poor attitudes but continue to pile on Kyle. I am no Kyle fan but it annoys me to no end how ridiculously different they treat him relative to other drivers. While I'm at it, I'd like to point out that I disagree with him about the tires, but not clean air. Clean air and the aero package of the Gen-6/older Gen-5 COT is what has killed racing.

    1. Anonymous9:36 PM

      Kyle is a spoiled rich kid that wasn't taught respect. Drivers in cup won't give like the Nationwide series. Welcome to the real world Kyle! Another chase opportunity blown. Keep doing what your doing. It makes my Sunday when u beat yourself!

  14. I'm baffled why his points finishes are being treated as a major issue when points is not what racers are supposed to care about. Kyle Busch has myriad problems as a person but that isn't unique to the sport - the fact is the sport has next to no professionals; what it has is a plethora of bloodthirsty immature wannabes with racecars so easy to drive it's not much of an effort to do so (that's why Danica Patrick is even involved in racing; she would never exist if the cars were as hard to drive as they were in the pre-power steering era).

    Anon 5:09 PM accurately notes the hypocrisy of attacking Kyle Busch while ignoring the serial unprofessional behavior of Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, et al and also notes the failure of the Gen-6 racecar - it has failed to make passing possible; the draft is supposed to be more important than handling and clean air and yet the Gen-6 has simply kept it at the status quo (which is why I'm hopeful about a reported aero test at Charlotte on October 14th where the old roof blade supposedly will be used).

  15. Anonymous8:35 AM

    What meltdown? The guy won the Nationwide race and then finished 5th in the Cup race.

    It is funny to watch the NASCAR press goes out of its way to protect or gloss over the bad behavior of Tony Stewart and Travis Kvapil but bash Kyle for his comments. In listening to your radio show you seem to give passes to those who you consider to be your “friends” but hammer anyone else. Oh, I forgot that you also give a pass to Kevin Harvick as well. Didn’t his wife used to be a weekly caller to your show?

    Hmmm, maybe there is a little more to your bias when the possible reason for it gets aired.