Ever since NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton announced before the season started that the sanctioning body was going to let the drivers settle their diff erences on the track, feuds have been popping up at just about every stop on the schedule. Take your pick as to which one was your favorite ‘cause it seems like just about every driver at some point this season crawled out of his race car intent on telling another driver just how he felt about him.
Drivers shouldn’t be any diff erent from the fans and one thing for sure, NASCAR fans will let a driver know very quickly how they feel about him. No driver in the sport knows more about what the fans think of him than Kyle Busch. Busch is definitely not in the sport to try and garner the biggest fan base, but a strange thing is starting to happen in the series. He may still be getting the most boos during driver introductions or when he pulls into victory lane, but one thing for sure is that his name is on the tip of every race fan’s tongue.
Busch was again the center of attention at Bristol and not just for what he did in the Cup Series. The Joe Gibbs driver was able to make history by becoming the first driver in the history of the sport to win a race in all three of NASCAR’s major series in the same week.
Busch started his magical week last Wednesday when he piloted his own truck to victory lane after starting near the rear of the field. He followed that up with what turned out to be his toughest victory of the three on Friday night when he won the Food City 250 Nationwide Series event. That win came with plenty of controversy as he bumped Brad Keselowski out of the way on his way to taking the checkered flag.
When he exited his car, Kyle played it up to the fans as he teased the crowd by acting as if he was wiping tears from his eyes. By that time the crowd had channeled all of their anger, and when Busch exited his car in victory lane a rain of boos came down from the stands loud enough it seemed to be heard all the way to Charlotte.
Kyle enjoys this kind of reaction from the crowd and when he was introduced before Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race, Kyle once again played the crowd when he took the microphone to introduce himself. As you would expect, the crowd greeted Busch with the biggest round of boos of the night but that didn’t stop him from saying, “Oh, you are so loving, thank you.”
The fans were not the only ones that night that had gotten themselves geared up for Busch. Keselowski also had something on his mind that he wanted to tell the crowd about NASCAR’s resident bad boy. When it was his turn to introduce himself, Keselowski was somewhat simplistic about his thoughts of Busch when he said, “Kyle Busch is an ass.” The crowd roared with their approval of Keselowski’s assessment of Busch, but all that seemed to do was stoke the fire inside of Busch to record his history-making third consecutive win of the week.
Saturday night’s win turned out to be the easiest of the three and also bumped him up three spots in the standings to third. He follows leader Kevin Harvick and second-place driver Jeff Gordon, who have both clinched spots in the Chase with two more races remaining at Atlanta and Richmond. All Busch has to do to clinch his spot is to start both races and he will be guaranteed of a starting spot in the 12-driver field when the championship round of 10 races begin to determine who will be this season’s champion.
He may not be your favorite driver but with 19 career Cup wins, 40 Nationwide wins and 19 victories in the truck series, he is one of the sport’s best drivers. NASCAR has plenty of the good guys that can win races and now it has its “villain” that is also a threat to win any time the green flag is waved. Somebody has to play that role and at this time no driver can do it better than Kyle Busch and no driver likes playing that role better than he does.
Emory Healthcare 500
Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.5-mile tri-oval, 24 degrees of banking in the turns)
Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m. TV:
PRN Defending champ: