Pedley: Where Have We Seen This Behavior Before?
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Kansas City, Kan. – Maybe it’s the clothes he wears, or the way he combs hair, that makes fans want to tell him they don’t care. Whatever, Kyle Busch is just not some people’s style.
Which is a puzzling shame.
Puzzling? It is for me.
NASCAR is a sport which did, does and will hold up Dale Earnhardt Sr. as the greatest of its heros.
Earnhardt did not win the most races and only tied Richard Petty for winning the most championships. Oh, he was one hell of a wheel man. Make zero mistake about that, but the best ever? Highly, debatable.
He was gruff outside of the car, and inside of it? Well in his quest for victory he made Lombardi look like Elton John.
Earnhardt angered many other drivers and other owners by the way he shoved them out of his way and chewed up their equipment. You can bet that back in the day, long was the list of drivers and owners who wanted to put a headlock on Earnhardt and start whaling.
Only fear for their own safety kept them from doing just that as Dale Earnhardt was a big, tough man. Stopped me in my tracks with just a squinty glare one time during an aborted interview attempt in the garages at Texas. OK, I thought, maybe Jeff Burton would make a better story.
Busch, too, possesses a socially aberrant personality. (Not much like Earnhardt’s – a different kind of aura around it. Earnhardt was Rottweiler, Busch much like the West Highland White Terriers he owns: When in bad moods, Earnhardt could take your arm off, Busch could bite five of your finger tips off.)
But for some reason, Earnhardt is revered and celebrated for his persona. He’s viewed as an anti-PC rebel who, for many, personifies Don’t Tread On Me. No matter that some who knew him knew he was a caring soul and loving father who could be just as insecure as every other human on planet earth.
Busch, on the other hand, is viewed as a sneering punk and not the hip kind which wore ill-fitting black t-shirts and went to Ramones concerts back in the day. More the kind that chased neighborhood cats around with a pitchfork as a kid.
In the world of professional sports, however, Busch’s anti-social behavior is low key. The guy would be nominated for service clubs’ Man of the Year Awards in stick and ball sports where disgusting, lying, pornographic bums like Manny Ramirez and Mike Vick are having the world laid at their feet.
A shame? Yes it is. Kyle Busch is the best driver in America right now. The best. And I don’t care about the numbers, though his border on eerie. No Cup championships yet? Doesn’t enter into the equation.
Just watch this kid drive a stock car. Really watch him.
I love these NASCAR/Formula 1 driver swap deals. There is something golden about them. Two kids letting the other try out their bicycles.
When I heard that Tony Stewart was going to do one with Lewis Hamilton I thought, first, great. I thought second, sure like to see Busch do it.
The backdrop to all of the above is what happened on Saturday afternoon at Kansas Speedway. Details remain sketchy but it appears Richard Childress, the man who used to own the cars Earnhardt drove, approached Busch in the Camping World garage after the truck race and pounded on him.
The crime was a cool down-lap bump to let RCR driver Joey Coulter know that the kid had better learn some respect. Or, as some would say, Busch administered an Earnhardt Love Tap.
As word got out, a collective silent cheer went up from NASCAR Nation. Take that, punk.
I can’t help but wonder what the reaction today would be if the person administering the bump would have been driving a black No. 3 and had a big, dark mustache on his upper lip.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments