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Woody: Busch Better Heed Burton

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 31 2010

Jeff Burton had some advice for Kyle Busch Sunday. Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

I’ve followed Jeff Burton’s career ever since he ran his first Cup race in 1993 and I’ve never known a more likable, mild-mannered and easy-going driver.

He has a reputation as a racer who takes his lumps and never complains.

That’s why it was so stunning to see Burton heatedly confront Kyle Busch following Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Burton got in Busch’s face, shaking his finger. When he turned to walk away Busch said something, causing Burton to whirl around and light into him again.

Busch wisely buttoned his lip and didn’t say anything else.

I think what we saw was an indication that Burton is fed up with being NASCAR’s punching bag, the driver who keeps getting pushed around and never pushes back.

Also I suspect it was an indication that Kyle is a young driver whose act is getting old. Maybe he’s been reading too many of his press clippings comparing his aggressive driving style to Dale Earnhardt’s.

I knew Dale Earnhardt.

Dale Earnhardt was a friend of mine.

Kyle, you’re no Dale Earnhardt.

Before driving like Earnhardt Busch first has to earn the respect that Earnhardt held among his fellow drivers, and Kyle’s got a long way to go. I imagine that was the message that Burton gave young Busch the other night, in no uncertain terms.

Frankly – and in some defense of Busch – I didn’t think his bump of Burton was all that bad. But it was the latest in a growing list of incidents on and off the track – like the nonsense the week before when Busch threatened teammate Denny Hamlin.

Burton finally reached his breaking point with Busch. He may not be the only one.

We’ve seen it happen before with other drivers, most notably with Kyle’s big brother Kurt. We all know what happened when Kurt finally pushed driver Jimmy Spencer too far – he got a punch in the nose.

For a moment last Sunday night I thought Kyle might in for a similar attitude adjustment from Burton. Jeff may be mild-mannered, but you get the feeling that he’s not the sort that you want to push too far.

There’s no questioning the talent of Kyle Busch. At his young age he’s already among the best on the track and could be on his way to all-time greatness. And let’s be honest – from a media standpoint he stirs the pot and keeps things interesting.

But he’d better care careful or he’s going to make things TOO interesting for his own good.

If he teed off nice-guy Jeff Burton the way he did, what’s going to happen when he angers a REAL hot-head?

If Kyle keeps going the way he is, we may find out before long.

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 31 2010
15 Comments

15 Comments »

  • Emily says:

    You might want to check the replays and look how fast Burton backs off the 1 car. Had he just stuck behind the 1, Kyle wouldn’t have gotten into him. Of course Burtons car may not have been fast enough to stay with the 1 but that sure wasn’t Kyles faught.

    It’s odd to me how some fans don’t seem to want to see a driver give it their all. I bet you’re a Dale Jr fan.

    • Bob says:

      You have to be a Busch fan as they are the only ones who must bring Earnhardt into every conversation. The article is not about placing blame. I agree with the writer the garage may be getting as tired of Busch as I am of his fans.

      • Laura says:

        The Earnhardt you’re refering too here is Jr, I assume. Well sorry but Jr fans are quick to include Kyle too many times as well and they are very quick to bash Kyle. Strange, bash a driver for giving it their all which can and does lead to mistakes but pull for a guy that doesn’t try as hard but makes mistakes too.

        Without a doubt, I’d rather my driver makes mistakes by giving it their all than one, who just the past race was happy he cracked the top 20. An owner does too unless he’s just happy with the money the less competitive driver brings to the organization. Sorry but I just don’t feel Dale Sr would be happy with his son right now if he were still here.

        And yes the article is placing blame, the title alone proves that. The author is also accussing Kyle of trying to be the intimidator. Kyle is Kyle and that’s all. He isn’t trying to be anyone other than himself. He just happens to display more of the passion and talent of the intimidator than any other driver out there.

        You say you’re tired of Kyles fans well some of us are tired of fans of other drivers bashing ours. Kyles matured but too many still don’t give him credit. Only thing I think will make most of you fans happy is if Kyle gets caught up in the bashing of him so much that he doesn’t try as hard on the track. Thank goodness that doesn’t seem to have happened. I was afraid that had happened with Kurt but thank goodness it didn’t. But I’m sure as time goes on and Kurt keeps winning, some of you will say he needs another punch from Spencer.

  • Bob says:

    Great article. I suspect Burton losing his cool with Busch even though the blame for the incedent is questionable was a sign of things to come. I agree with KMC I don’t believe that KB has ever made the Earnhardt comparison. But he has tried to perpetuate his bad boy image. Burton may well have been sending a message from a lot of folks. We will see.

    • Laura says:

      If the message was that Kyle should slow down, I hope Kyle totally ignores that. What happened with Burton wasn’t Kyles fault.

      And no, Kyle doesn’t compare himself to Earnhardt, his fans do. Actually Kyle thought the comparison was nice but said he wanted to make a name for himself.

      As far as his bad boy image, I can see why he would like to mess with people about that. He isn’t a bad guy but yeah, he’s aggressive, thank goodness. I’d rather my driver show aggression than appear to be ok with riding around in 20th somewhere.

      Besides that, if he wanted to be a bad boy, he could have been very disrespectful to Burton when Burton caught up with him after the race. 3 guys between them, Kyle could have spewed all kinds of bad comments toward Burton. He didn’t.

  • KMC says:

    I have never once heard Kyle Busch compare himself to Earnhardt. That is a comparison others have made. Unfortunately, the media (yourself) use it as a point of contention when you feel like vebally bashing the young man. What is your point in that comment???? I think Jeff Burton was completely, shockingly out of line – period end of story. Your (using the term loosely here) “article” is a poor as Burton’s behavior. I feel your article is biased and shows a personal disdain for the kid. The article is not journalism.

  • Burton fan says:

    Thank you Larry for a very well written article. You saw it like it was.

  • Jim says:

    Too bad Jeff didn’t knock that smirk off of Kyle’s face! Jeff was very diplomatic by saying that he liked Kyle’s aggressive driving and enjoyed racing with him, unless it caused Jeff problems. 3 wide will work at Charlotte, given the right circumstances and that was not one of them. Jeff and Bowyer were in their lines and Kyle tried to squeeze in…not a terrible deal, but just not enough room at that instant! Had he waited just a few seconds longer, he had enough car and enough savvy to drive right past those guys cleanly! Yes, Dale Sr. was aggressive and “rattled a few cages” along the way, but the other drivers had a tremendous respect for everything the man did for the sport. Kyle, not so much!

  • Sharon Jones says:

    I think it is time for a Kyle attitude adjustment. He is not the only driver on the track.

  • Mike says:

    I think I agree with the author: NASCAR needs more folks like Burton who will hold hands with the other drivers and sing campfire songs around the campfire after the race.

  • Jenny says:

    I totally agree with Larry Woody. Kyle tried to make it 3 wide when there was no room to do so. Burton didn’t come down, he held his line in the corner. Same with Bowyer. Just because it is late in the race, it doesn’t mean you get to wreck whoever you want to get ahead. Use some skill and make it 3 wide in the straight.

  • Laura says:

    “Before driving like Earnhardt Busch first has to earn the respect that Earnhardt held among his fellow drivers, and Kyle’s got a long way to go.”

    Burton didn’t seem to have a problem with Kyle till the last restart. Burton should have stayed focused on the car in front of him instead of trying to slow Kyle down. I’m sure you’ve seen the replay many times, Burton moved down quicker than he moved forward. Kyle found a hole and Burton tried to close it, respect goes both ways.

    And sorry to disagree with you but Kyle Busch is more like Earnhardt Sr than any driver out there.

    • 61 Starliner says:

      you’re a moron who sees things with your heart instead of your brain. Maybe that’s because your brain is seriously scrambled

      • Laura says:

        You might want to check the replays and look how fast Burton backs off the 1 car. Had he just stuck behind the 1, Kyle wouldn’t have gotten into him. Of course Burtons car may not have been fast enough to stay with the 1 but that sure wasn’t Kyles faught.

        It’s odd to me how some fans don’t seem to want to see a driver give it their all. I bet you’re a Dale Jr fan.

  • sharon says:

    First of all just because you follow him doesn’t make Burton right. #2 Maybe if you followed Kyle more often you would see he doesn’t want to be Dale Sr. He so stated that many times. Plus the fact that you left out Burton’s last comment tells me that you’re not very sharp about either one. Burton was frustrated and right so but if you go back and watch the video it might give you another insight to the event.