Home » NASCAR - Sprint Cup Series

Woody: Kyle Busch Plays Rough But Not Dirty

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, December 21 2010

Kyle Busch has been included on a list of dirtiest athletes. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Some goofy website recently ran a ranking of the “top 50 dirtiest athletes in sports history” and Kyle Busch was listed 38th.

That put him ahead of notorious boxer/ex-con Mike Tyson who came in 40th. That’s all we need to know about how authentic the whole thing is. It was intended to draw attention, as all such “top-so-and-so” lists are. The more ridiculous and controversial the rankings, the more reaction the site draws.

The “dirtiest athlete” list rated hockey player Marty McSorley No. 1.

Carl Edwards, at No. 48, was the only other driver listed. Again, that’s absurd. Edwards is like Busch – fiercely competitive – but not dirty.

The website explained that some of the antics that earned Busch his spot on the list were flashing an obscene gesture at a NASCAR official after a pit road penalty and smashing the trophy guitar following a victory at Nashville Superspeedway a couple of years ago.

Nobody was tougher on Kyle that I was following the guitar-smashing episode. It was insulting to the track and to artist Sam Bass, and embarrassing to the sport.

Busch came off as juvenile and disrespectful and he compounded it by refusing to apology and

Kyle Busch may not have great fashion sense, but dirty as a driver? (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

instead tossing a few dollars toward a Nashville charity – making him appear like a typical spoiled pro athlete who thinks he can buy his way out of a bad situation.

But although I sometimes disagree with of his off-track behavior, I’ve never considered Busch a “dirty” racer. Tough, yes. Determined, no question. Rough, rowdy and a bit rascally at times. But not dirty, at least by my definition.

Even when Busch got a finger-wagging lecture from Jeff Burton after a run-in I didn’t think he was vilified by the replays. Looked to me like two drivers elbowing their way through the same patch of asphalt.

I likewise disagreed when Todd Bodine sarcastically “thanked” Busch for racing him dirty in a truck race. I thought Busch was racing him hard, but not dirty.

Looked to me like Busch simply took NASCAR at its word when it said, “Boys, have at it.”

Just because racers bump into each other doesn’t make them dirty drivers. Bumping into each other used to be what stock car racing was all about. If someone couldn’t dish out a little contact – and take some in return – he was in the wrong business. He needed to trade his race car in for a badminton racquet.

Most fans would agree that, love him or loathe him, Kyle Busch is the most electrifying racer in NASCAR. His win-or-wreck style is reminiscent of that of Dale Earnhardt, who didn’t hesitate to nudge a competitor aside if the occasion called.

I never thought Earnhardt was dirty, just tough and determined.

I think the same about Busch. Sure, he can be a bit obnoxious and overbearing at times, but nobody can dispute his racing talent. If he keeps going, he’s destined to be ranked among the best wheelmen in history.

He didn’t get to this point by playing nice, and don’t look for him to change his style – no matter what the critics say.

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, December 21 2010
7 Comments

7 Comments »

  • The media has put Kyle on an undeserved pedestal from which he falls constantly. He is indeed a dirty driver as is Carl Edwards. On the other hand, the media has painted Brad as a dirty driver. Without anyone in the media taking time to go back to the beginning and find the facts, they listened to Denny, Carl, and Kyle’s story on Brad and thus the rap was issued. The truth is far from what is believed by the media at large. The fans know better. We saw the races and who is really dirty and who is aggressive. So Larry believe what you will. The fans who watch every race and every nuance in the race can give you scripture and verse of who the really dirty drivers are.

  • Gail Forrester says:

    Ginger, I have watched almost every truck, Nationwide and Cup race over the last two seasons and most of the Cup races over the last 25 YEARS. Kyle is in no way a dirty driver. The Todd Bodine incident was typical. Kyle outdrove Bodine, working him hard but clean, causing Bodine to wreck himself. But there is no driver the bald-headed cue ball won’t call dirty to excuse his own limited ability. I can understand that drivers are jealous and fans (esp those of Dale Jr) annoyed with Kyle’s attitude. But attitude is one thing; action is another. Kyle causes few wrecks, except where a competitor was not able to control his own car. I guess most drivers find driving on the edge a tad over their capacity, but then how many drivers can slide a car sideways across the finish line and win the race?

    If ANY driver I have followed over the last 25 years was dirty, it was Dale Earnhardt Sr., who drove dirty as way of life. He intentionally put more drivers in the wall in a single season than Kyle will in his entire career.

    Fact facts: Dale’s death was caused in large part by his dirty driving style and his ill-timed block. His death was a tragedy, but it was largely of his own making. If I were a competitor, I would sooner put up with Kyle’s middle finger salute than being killed. Call me sentimental.

  • don myhre says:

    kyle can be a very dirty driver at times. he will wreck anyone to win a race. when someone gets close to him, he calls them dirty—when he does the same thing, he whines about it. truly the most talented driver today, but has to grow up. agree with ginger–how can brad be called dirty–101 consecutive nns starts without a dnf? over 150 nascar cup and nns starts with under 10 dnf’s? and two of them from carl? cmon now guys, get real.

  • Jackie says:

    I like Kyle Busch,he’s a hard charger and a winner. he may not be popular with the fans like Jr. but he makes a fool out of him on the track!

  • Starliner says:

    Forget the incidents with Carl, Denny, or Brad. Just look at all the smaller teams in truck, and Nationwide he literally ran over. He didn’t just bump them out of the way. He ran them over. How about the crap he pulled throughout the final Homestead race. He never tried to win that race, he just tried to get in front of JJ, or Kevin and block them. He had a car capable of winning that race. He wasn’t interested in winning just manipulating the outcome of the championship. That is dirty. I don’t quite agree with all the others about his driving ability. Because driving ability includes car control, mental control, and good judgement of when to press, and when not to press. He is only above average in one of those catagories.

  • Terry says:

    We disagree on our assesments of Dale Sr…….
    We agree on Kyle Busch…..he is hard to look at and listen to…
    BUT….he doesn’t drive like # 3 did. Kyle is a smart hard racer.
    I don’t like him or Gibbs or Toyota……
    and lumping all his junk lower division wins to compare him to say PEARSON who ran a limited schedule for 105….
    makes me physically ill.
    BUT the kid can drive…..plain simple.

  • Ginger says:

    The media has put Kyle on an undeserved pedestal from which he falls constantly. He is indeed a dirty driver as is Carl Edwards. On the other hand, the media has painted Brad as a dirty driver. Without anyone in the media taking time to go back to the beginning and find the facts, they listened to Denny, Carl, and Kyle’s story on Brad and thus the rap was issued. The truth is far from what is believed by the media at large. The fans know better. We saw the races and who is really dirty and who is aggressive. So Larry believe what you will. The fans who watch every race and every nuance in the race can give you scripture and verse of who the really dirty drivers are.