Published on May 12th, 2008 | by Michael J Smith2
Kyle Busch: NASCAR's New Bad Boy
Kyle Busch is rapidly becoming NASCAR’s bad boy. Over the last two weeks, he’s had run-ins with Steven Wallace and Brad Keselowski, not to mention an incident with NASCAR’s prodigal son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Kyle Busch was never really a fan favorite, as it were. But, it might not be all his fault. Part of the blame should go to his older brother Kurt Busch.
In the February 2006 issue of GQ Magazine, Kurt Busch was the number three most hated athlete behind Barry Bonds and Terrell Owens. Kurt had high-profile run ins with Jimmy Spencer, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, and Tony Stewart. He tangled with Stewart again this season, in Bud Shootout practice.
Fans already had a preconceived notion of younger brother Kyle before he entered the sport full time, thanks to Kurt.
But, Kyle did little to earn fans in his time with Hendrick Motorsports. We can all remember when Kyle threw his HANS device at Casey Mears in 2006.
He quickly earned a reputation as a driver who would win it or wreck it. He was seen as inconsistent, aggressive and impatient… a hot head.
Last year, when he wrecked out of the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Dale Jr. finished the race in the No. 5 car. Busch was nowhere to be found, which projected the image of a selfish driver who didn’t care about his team or his owner.
Busch also criticized his then-teammates at Hendrick, saying that they turned on him, and that he felt like an outsider. Following his release from Hendrick, Busch said that he had no idea he would be released, and appeared to harbor some ill will.
Some fans believe that this had something to do with his run in with Jr. in the Dan Lowry 400. Following that incident, Busch was pushed from just another hot-head driver to NASCAR’s public enemy number one.
Media reports attempted to fuel the fire, calling Jr./Busch the next big NASCAR feud. But, it didn’t work. Jr. seems focused more on running well and position himself for a championship than stirring the pot with Busch. In the end, that may be the smartest thing.
Busch doesn’t seem phased by the chorus of boos he hears during driver introductions or when he emerges from his car in Victory Circle. As a matter of fact, he seems to embrace the role:
I don’t care. I’m here to win. If I win, it just makes ‘em more upset and crying on their way home. By the way, somebody threw a beer can at me. Next time just make sure it’s full so I can enjoy it out there, all right?
One thing is for sure, though, Kyle Busch will keep winning, and the fans will keep booing.