Sunday, July 24, 2016

COMMENTARY: Like It Or Not, Kyle Busch Is Something Special

Love him if you will, hate him if you must. But either way, Kyle Busch is something special. 

NASCAR’s most polarizing driver did a lot of winning last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, becoming the first driver in the 67-year history of NASCAR to sweep a two-race Xfinity/Sprint Cup Series race weekend, by winning both events from the pole. 

Richard Petty never did it, nor did Dale Earnhardt. Mark Martin came up short, as did everyone else in the long and illustrious history of North American stock car racing. Busch did it last weekend – with ease -- authoring a pair of performances so ridiculously dominant that they appeared little more than child's play. 

His NOS Energy Toyota led all but one of 63 total laps in Saturday's Lilly Diabetes 250 at the Brickyard, smothering its pursuers on day marked by a triple-digit heat index and 125-degree in-car temperatures. By the time the halfway flags flew, the question was no longer, "Will Kyle Busch win? 

The question was, "by how much?" 

Sunday's flogging was no less brutal, with Busch leading 149 of 170 laps in the Combat Wounded Coalition 400No stock car racer in the history of the Brickyard had ever dominated an event so thoroughly, and it's unlikely that anyone will ever do so again. 

"I do a lot of things that nobody has ever done before," said Busch, moments after delivering the now-customary flourishing bow that prompted the Indianapolis grandstands to erupt in a torrent of catcallsIt's not what Busch says that sets fans' teeth on edge. 

It's that he so damned right, so damned often. 

Busch long ago stopped paying attention to the blustering boo birds. In fact, he actually seems to relish the hatred that spews forth from the cheap seats, channeling that tidal wave of negativity into the motivation he needs to accomplish even more, next week.

Busch is stock car racing's version of the Crazy Cat Lady, hoarding trophies one after another. His 16 NASCAR seasons have seen him accumulate 166 combined wins in the sanctioning body's three national series. Sunday's Brickyard win was his 38th in Cup competition, and he's been to Victory Lane an additional 48 times in the Camping World Trucks. Each NASCAR Xfinity Series score extends his own all-time record, after he long ago surpassed NASCAR Hall Of Famer Mark Martin's once unassailable slate of 49 career wins. Today, Busch is just 15 victories from doubling Martin's total, a milestone that -- at his current pace -- will almost certainly come in the next three years. 

Busch is without question the best pure wheelman in the sport today. Part Rembrandt, part Rocky Marciano, he can finesse his way to Victory Lane with amazing feats of car control, or play the "bump and run" card without a single qualm of conscience.  

Marriage and fatherhood have softened him in certain ways, to be sure. But they have done nothing to extinguish his considerable competitive fire. NASCAR's defending Sprint Cup Series champion lives to win races, whether it's a Sunday Sprint Cup, Saturday Xfinity or Friday Camping World Truck Series event. He'll even show-up for a Super Late Model race on an off-weekend. 

It's all the same to Busch. Just another opportunity to bludgeon the competition, yet again 

We love to root for underdogs in this country. It's the American Way. We build statues to Rocky Balboa, then tear our beloved underdogs into tiny little pieces when they commit the unpardonable sin of winning too often.   

“I'm hard on myself and I might be hard on my guys,” admitted Busch a few years ago, awash in celebratory champagne after a historic Truck/Xfinity/Cup three-peat at Bristol Motor Speedway. “But it boils down to the desire to win, wanting to win and trying to work toward that goal.” 

He doesn’t care how you feel when he – and to a lesser extent, other Sprint Cup Series drivers – "drops down" to compete in the Xfinity and Truck ranks. To him, it's just another day at the races; an opportunity to put another notch in his gun belt and add another trophy to his already sagging mantle. 

So go ahead and boo, if it makes you feel better. Roar your disapproval to the heavens, write a poison-pen letter to the editor, spew invectives on the national radio shows and call him everdirty name in the book. Knock yourself out, but don’t delude yourself into thinking that your opinion matters.  

Kyle Busch is going to win, and win often. And when he does, he’s going to celebrate just long enough for the photographers to capture it all on film, before turning his attention to next week's conquest. 

"Kyle is one of the most awesome talents," said Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick in 2007, not long before his relationship with Busch came unglued (in part) because of Kyle’s sometimes-challenging personality. "I compare Kyle to Tim Richmond, and that's saying a whole lot about car control. He's got that desire to win, he doesn't like to run second and he doesn't want to wait.” 

Truer words were never spoken. 

Accept them if you will.


  1. Anonymous10:36 PM

    Truer words spoken not. You watch him race, swing the car out of a spin, and wonder in the end if he was playing possum all along. Win after win, final restart after final restart, he rockets away as if his spirit is powering the car.

    We are privileged to watch.

  2. He is quite simply the best in Nascar, bar none. And I am very proud to be his fan. He gives back to racing through KBM with his mentoring of up and coming racers. The many facets of the Kyle Busch Foundation gives back to a myriad of worthy causes. S
    Yes, yes sir I am More than proud to be a fan of Kyle, I consider him one of the family.

  3. Bo mac7:49 AM

    Facts Godfather...

  4. Anonymous11:10 AM

    "Success is the sweetest revenge."

  5. Kurt Busch said when winning his championship in 2004, "If you think I am good, wait until you see my brother."

  6. Anonymous12:02 PM

    Kyle is good, in fact he's better than good. He is talented and yes, I remember when Kurt said 'If you think I'm good, wait until you see my brother'. Truer words have never been spoken. He has the world by the balls right now (pardon the language). He has a beautiful family, is doing what he loves as his chosen career and is hated/loved by many. However even some of the haters I'm sure admire his ability and wonder 'why can't the other teams get it together?' When you are blessed and happy in life, good things fall into place. He is truly happy and I don't blame him. He is simply showing that he is the next generation of racer. The future coming up will have much to figure out to obtain that level. I'm not a Kyle fan however I do admire what he has accomplished. I told my husband, when Kyle first moved up to the cup cars that he was going to be someone to watch. Well he proved me right. Wow.

  7. Tracy2:44 PM

    So true! It's unreal how good he is. You may not like him but if you can't admit that he can drive a car you are either childishly jealous or are not a true race fan.

  8. Scott Mac Donald4:16 PM

    I agree he's a great talent but he was only a mid pack car when he ran his own xfinity car. All the JGR cars are top five. If he was in a lesser car and still winning all the time then I think people might have more respect for what he's doing in the xfinity series.

  9. He only ran 8 races that year, Kurt drove the rest. Also he Had to use Triad engines and at the time Triad was 43 HP short. Let's not forget in 2008 at Charlotte he drove the 32 Braum car and beat the JGR cars and gave Braum their first win.

  10. Anonymous2:48 AM

    I dunno, he has been around for some time, he is not a newbie. He always was hot and cold and his inability to reign in his emotions was always a problem. In my mind he still has that emotional problem When he wins, rainbows and unicorns spew from his mouth. He has a bad day and he still runs to his trailer. He has not matured. I do find it interesting with his on and off hot and cold record, since his accident in the little league last year, he has been "the guy to beat" along with Toyota with a wing at "Daytona Rising" named after them. All to convenient and scripted, imo.