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Woody: Kindergarten Kyle Has Lots To Learn

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 24 2010

Kyle Busch rides the wall after crashing in Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

Wonder how Kyle Busch would like it if, after one of his victories, he strutted into the press box to gush over his win and all the members of the media folded their laptops, got up, and walked out?

Sorry, Kyle – we’ve had a bad day and we just aren’t in the mood to talk right now.

Busch likes to be interviewed when things are going well but ducks and runs when they go bad. Instead of the stage bow he takes after each win, he bows out after each loss.

Last Saturday night’s all-star race at Charlotte was a prefect case in point. Busch was taken out in a crash with Denny Hamlin and had some harsh words for his teammate on his team radio. Busch stormed into Hamlin’s hauler to continue the discussion.

It was the biggest story of the night. But Kyle refused to talk to the media.

Granted, he doesn’t have to. NASCAR doesn’t require it, nor does team owner Joe Gibbs who is known for running a loose sandbox.

But the reason young Busch became a multi-millionaire almost before he was old enough to shave was because of media coverage of the sport. Without that exposure, which sells tickets and brings in corporate gold, Kyle would still be racing for trophies and gas money back on the little bull-ring in Vegas.

Most drivers get it. They may not like it but they get it. Media exposure is what keeps their sport running and brings in those monster paychecks and expensive toys.

Mark Martin, like Kyle Busch, was taken out of last Saturday’s race in a pileup not of his making. It ended a strong run for the veteran driver, and you could sense the disappointment in his voice.

Mark, like Kyle, wasn’t required to do a media interview. But unlike Kyle, he did. I’m sure he didn’t enjoy it, but he stepped up and did it. I’m equally sure Mark’s fans appreciated getting to hear a few words from their favorite driver. I imagine Kyle’s fans would have liked to hear from him, too.

Nobody can dispute Busch’s incredible racing talent. He’s one of best stock car drivers I’ve ever seen, especially for his age and short years of experience.

But off the track he’s got a lot to learn and long way to go.

Last year Busch came to Nashville to do some fence-mending. He presented a check to some area schools to atone for an incident earlier in the spring when he smashed a priceless trophy guitar in Victory Lane at Nashville Superspeedway.

One of Busch’s PR handlers informed the media beforehand that he wouldn’t discuss the guitar-smashing incident. The PR handler was advised that he’d be asked about it anyway – that Kyle doesn’t get to dictate which questions are asked in a press conference.

The obvious question was asked, and after the tense press conference ended, Busch’s PR handler heatedly confronted a reporter, spewing profanities.

I’ve always said that you can tell more about the character of an athlete in defeat that in victory. It’s easy to be a good winner. It’s hard to be a good loser.

Nobody expects a driver who’s just been wiped out to wear a happy face. Losing is no fun. But there are lots of obligations in life that aren’t fun, and how someone stands up and meets them tells a lot about the person. Kyle Busch could take some lessons from Mark Martin on how to handle adversity with grace and class.

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

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 24 2010


  • […] Woody: Kindergarten Kyle Has Lots To Learn […]

  • Laura says:

    “I imagine Kyle’s fans would have liked to hear from him, too.”

    I am a Kyle Busch fan and NO, I would not like to hear from Kyle if he choses not to talk. Instead of assuming his fan would, why not ask them?

    I have a great deal of respect for Kyle Busch and that involves giving him much needed space whenever he wants it. I am not the kind of fan that is so selfish as to expect him to talk when he would rather not.

    “I’ve always said that you can tell more about the character of an athlete in defeat that in victory. It’s easy to be a good winner.”

    That is your opinion but I don’t agree. We didn’t learn more about the character of Dale Earnhardt from his defeats.

  • asshat says:

    When are you media asses going to learn your true place in the world? You are not kings, you are not in charge of anything, nobody owes you a damn thing, and nobody would die if all of you disappeared one day. If somebody doesn’t want to talk to you, then deal with it. Nobody owes you the time of day. I hope the next time one of you media asses repeats that trite statement about not picking fights with somebody who buys ink by the barrel, they take that barrel of ink and shove it down your throat and beat you to death with the empty barrel. Then maybe you jerk offs will get the point.

    • Big Ed says:

      I submit that the day that free-world journalists disappear the free world will disappear and lots of people will die. You know, like in the Soviet Union under Stalin. The Constitution of the United States of America contains an amendment ensuring the freedom of the press for a reason, my man. Besides, if all journalists died, as you would like, how would you know exactly who to hate?

  • islanddude says:

    I think some of your readers must have read a different article than I did. I looked through the article several times and did not see a single reference to Junior, Tony, Kurt or the Easter Bunny. So I will refrain from making a comment on anything other than the article.

    Kyle is a rare talent in a race car. Remember the comments he made after the first COT race at Bristol about how he hates the new car, well, he has won the second most races in the new car. Proves that he can feel the car (which many other, more experienced drivers still cannot get a handle on consistently)and provide results. Add to that the fact that JGR engineering seems to be on top of their game right now.

    I think that we are all tired of the lily-white persona that NASCAR tried to promote for many years although I understood they were waging a battle to get this racing into the mainstream of America with television contracts and getting recognition for the sport. The sport has arrived and NASCAR has done its job.

    Yet the old adage “actions speak louder than words” is most apt. And through his actions, be it smashing a guitar or acting like he did this past Saturday night, the level of maturity is on again, off again with him. We all get disappointed from things that happen to us, but the rest of us have to pick up the pieces and move on. But apparently he believes that he should not be held to this standard.

    Someone (insert Joe Gibbs, JD Gibbs, his fiancee, or his parents) should remind him that he does not pay himself. The fans, the media, the networks paying the big money for telecast rights, and the founders of NASCAR pay him the millions that he receives. He, by choosing to race cars with NASCAR, willingly put himself into the public spotlight. And as a result, he owes the aforementioned people the right to hear from him even when things do not go according to his plan. And just writing checks to charities does not absolve him of being polite to his paymasters,the public. Even his former teammate at JGR, who has won a lot more races than Kyle, gets it. I look forward to seeing that old teammate of his spar with the media, it keeps it interesting. And he had a checkered past as well until he woke up one morning and smelled the coffee.

    Kyle, being a racer is only in part about the time spent in the cockpit. You do have an obligation to someone other than yourself, no matter how disappointed you are at the time. Aspire to be half the humanist of the likes of Mark Martin and you will be one of the most exceptional racers that ever lived.

  • Bill B says:

    “I imagine Kyle’s fans would have liked to hear from him, too”

    I’m sure his mother and father just called him after the race.

  • paul says:

    ha ha ha you are kidding right. Lets see Kyle runs up front wins races. Jr sells t shirts to old sr fans.

    One is making his own legacy and one is riding on one.

    One earned his spot as a star and one has used his fathers fans to sell t shirts and caps

    Lets see so far the balance looks like the 18 is the show and the 88 just showed up.

  • Don Good says:

    I thought any driver who was involved in an accident was required to go to the infield care center. I assume (a dangerous practice, I know) the same “rule” would apply to the all-star race. So, how did Kyle manage to avoid that visit?

  • Gett Overit says:


    OK, we get it. Kyle Busch is a terrible guy because he won’t give you quotes. Heaven forbid we shouldn’t bend over backwards to kiss the backsides of any writer at any time. You guys beat Busch up for speaking out and then when he knows he’s going to put his foot in his mouth and he shuts up to prevent a gaffe you throw him under the bus for not speaking to you.

    I don’t think I’d want to speak to you, either. If Busch attacks you, that’s one thing. If he just won’t give you a quote, write the story without his quotes. But don’t fill your story quota with personal shots at Busch because he’s not making your job any easier. Be a professional, please.

  • Spencer says:

    Why do Kyle’s supporters sound like 4th graders? Always deflecting criticism by pointing out others poor behavior. I’ll tell you what I tell my own children; I don’t care what Dale down the block did or what Carl in the other class got away with. I don’t care if your brother Denny started it. YOU and you alone are responsible for your own behavior and you either grow up and learn to control how you react in these circumstances or you go to your room without priviledges until you do.

    Good for you Mr. Woody to point out the obvious. Joe Gibbs does indeed run a loose sandbox. Perhaps he should consult his Bible for guidance. (Start with Proverbs 29:15) He’s the one coddling this driver the most and the Gibbs PR department has unloaded a large truck of manure on the media. “The NEW Kyle?” Yeah. Right. They all ought to be ashamed.

  • DMan says:

    The new, more mature Kyle? Kinda reminds me of that song by the Who…”meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. LMBO!

  • Ginger says:

    OMG Paul, you sound just like Cryle. And if for more than a second you think Jr Nation wants its’ driver to be like him you are seriously hallucinating. Kyle has a serious case of jealousy toward Jr and apparently you are following in his footsteps. You’re right about one thing. Cryle is a show. Like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. Whether you like it or not, the media has coddled him and made him believe he is something special. He is not. Just a kid who has made a lot of money and has no clue what responsibilities he bears.

    Just for the record, good news, you never have to read about Jr again…never have to listen to him again. The mute button is wonderful when Kyle speaks, and I never have to click on an article about Kyle.

  • RMann5 says:

    Thank you Larry, I agree 1000%.

  • paul says:

    Or he could be like the jr nation crowd who talk jr non-stop when there hasn’t been anything to really report on in 8 yrs. We have to sit threw another jr thread or enterview about virtually nothing at all.

    So Your report on Kyle’s lack of communication is still way more interesting then hearing jr say…well uggh we uggh my car diden’t handle ugg well and it’s tonys fault uggh I mean lance uggh well .

    Kyle is everything the 88 fan wants in a driver.If jr was doing the same thing as kyle right now you’d be reporting we need to give jr some room.He’s tired and needs his rest.Like it or not jr shows up but Kyle’s the show!

    If you don’t have anything to say say nothing at all is what most are brought up hearing.He said nothing and you still bashed him. Good for him but bad for you.If he had given you the time would you write good about him or throw him too the dog’s like you just did. He did his job do yours!

    • RICK says:

      Paul, you sound like an Obama supporter blaming “W” Bush for all of Barry’s short-comings. Jr had nothing in this, why is it his fault for the way Kyle acts. Find something intelligent to say or save your time and dont waste ours.