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Woody: Kyle Pulled A Kyle After Texas Race

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 10 2009
Kurt Busch blew past brother Kyle after the younger Busch ran out of fuel Sunday. Kyle Busch then blew past the media. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kurt Busch blew past brother Kyle after the younger Busch ran out of fuel Sunday. Kyle Busch then blew past the media. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

When Kyle Busch narrowly missed making the make the Chase for the Championship at Richmond back in September I though he showed a lot of class with the way he handed his defeat and disappointment in the harsh glare of the TV lights.

That low point of his season might have been the high point of his career in terms of his image.

As I wrote at the time, maybe the petulant, guitar-smashing Bratboy of NASCAR had finally grown up.

Last Sunday at Texas Kyle regressed.

After running out of gas with two laps to go he climbed from his car and sulked away. He dodged the media, leaving new crew chief Dave Rogers to handle the unpleasant duties.

Busch’s loss was a significant story because he had been on the cusp of history.

He had won the Friday truck race and the Saturday Nationwide race and no driver had ever swept all three races in all three series in the same weekend.

A Busch Cup victory would have been a major story. The fact that he came so close – he had dominated the race by leading 232 laps – was a big story.

What if Jimmie Johnson should lose the championship week after next at Homestead-Miami, climb from car, and disappear without a word to anyone?

Sure, Busch was disappointed. Understandably. Who wouldn’t be? But he still had an obligation to step up and discuss the situation.

Busch didn’t duck and run after this truck and Nationwide victories. He hammed it up with his trademark exaggerated stage bows and fingers thrust aloft to signal his number of wins.

Busch is like a lot of today’s sports stars and celebrities: they love the attention when it’s convenient but want to be left alone when it’s not. They want to be able to turn it on and off like a water spigot, according to their mood and whim.

One of the qualities that made Richard Petty so endearing was his grace in defeat. (As Richard says, he lost a whole lot more races than he won.). Yet even when he suffered a tough loss Petty was the same as when he won. He was accessible to the media – which he realized was his conduct to the fans – and was never critical of his team or anyone around him.

Petty always stood as tall in defeat as in victory.

You can tell more about a person by how they handle losing than by how they handle wining. It’s easy to be pleasant and cooperative when things are going well. It’s not so easy when things turn sour.

Petty won with class and lost with dignity. He understood his responsibilities to the sport and the fans. He knew that the media had a job to do, and that the fans were interested in what he had to say, win or lose.

Kyle needs to take some cues from the King.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 10 2009
24 Comments

24 Comments »

  • Matt says:

    Personally, I think Kyle should do the post-race interviews, yes, but I don’t want him to show any grace doing it. The worst thing about him walking away without giving interviews is that we don’t get to hear him complain and be who he would be in that situation. Graceful in defeat is boring in defeat. Surely you need some, or most, drivers to be that way, but the fact that everyone is that way is one of the problems fans always (rightfully) complain about.

  • Tont says:

    1. Kyle Busch is NOT obligated to talk to media unless he finishes in the top 3, then he is obligated to attend the post race press conference.

    2. When Kyle talks the media Kyle Busch haters call him a whiner and when Kyle walks he gets called a sore loser. What does the media want?

    3. Little Dale jr ran in the top 10 and ran out of gas-just like Kyle-so was Little Dale jr “obligated” to talk to the media? Where was Little Dale Jrs. post race, disappointed interview?