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Woody: Nashville Not Into Punk Rock; NASCAR Shouldn’t Be Either

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 10 2009
Kyle Busch celebrates his victory in Saturday's Nationwide Series race (RacinToday photo by David Vaughn)

Kyle Busch celebrates his victory in Saturday's Nationwide Series race (RacinToday photo by David Vaughn)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Nashville – There’s a catch-all clause in the NASCAR rule book that says drivers are held accountable “for actions detrimental to the sport of stock car racing.”

If what Kyle Busch did in Nashville last Saturday night wasn’t detrimental to the sport then nothing is.

Busch bashed to bits Nashville Superspeedway’s trademark trophy, a Sam Bass-painted Gibson guitar, in what he termed a “rock-star style” Victory Lane celebration.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash was quoted as saying he had “no issues” with the incident.

Balash even suggested the antics were positive, saying that Gibson Guitars, the Nationwide Series, the track and even the sponsors “will get a little press out of it.”

I like Joe, but I wonder what planet he’s living on; the air must be thinner there.

The entire city of Nashville is in an uproar. Fans are furious. Track GM Cliff Hawks is furious. Artist Sam Bass is furious. The race sponsors are furious.

What part of “furious” doesn’t NASCAR understand?

I’ve been covering sports in Nashville four decades and I can’t recall any single incident that has created such a negative buzz.

I was on WSM radio with Bass Sunday night and for a solid hour we were deluged with calls from irate fans.

I did another one-hour TV sports show Monday night and the uproar hadn’t waned. The switchboard lit up and crackled non-stop. The host said he’s never had such a response.

Some callers said they weren’t race fans but were nevertheless incensed at the image of Busch repeatedly dashing the $2,000 instrument to the pavement. One caller suggested a boycott of Joe Gibbs Racing and its sponsors. Another said he will never attend another NASCAR event and wants the city of Nashville (actually the community of Gladeville) to “kick the bums out.”

One internet scribe lamely tried to defend Busch’s behavior and said Bass wasn’t mad.

Oh really? The Sam Bass I talked to said he was “shocked and stunned and heart-broken” as he watched Busch destroy the hand-painted trophy.

The normally mild-mannered artist wondered “How Kyle would like it if I took a hammer and destroyed his race car?”

Maybe it’s just me, but it sounds like Sam was a bit peeved.

Finally, after two days of national attention, the Associated Press got on the story. Bass, interviewed at his studio in Charlotte, told AP that he was most definitely angry and upset over what Busch did.

NASCAR by now knows what happened and it shouldn’t be let off the hook. Trust me, it would go bonkers if Busch dared treat a Sprint Cup trophy that way.

Can you imagine NASCAR’s reaction if Busch had won the Daytona 500 and proceeded to dash the trophy to bits in Victory Lane? Brian France and Mike Helton – along with Sprint and all the other high-dollar sponsors – would’ve keeled over from apoplexy.

Or what if Busch won the Cup race at Martinsville and did to the beautiful grandfather clock trophy what he did to Nashville’s trademark guitar? Think NASCAR would have “no issue” with Kyle dashing Martinsville’s trophy to smithereens in a “rock-star style” celebration?

I doubt that Joe Balash or any other NASCAR official would leave the track joking about it.

Busch could never get away with doing to a Cup trophy what he did to his Nationwide trophy, and NASCAR’s deafening silence sends a latent message about what it thinks of its second-tier series: So what? Who cares? Trashing a Nationwide trophy is no big deal. Insult the Nationwide track. Infuriate the Nationwide fans. Alienate the Nationwide sponsors.

And amid the clamor, not a peep from NASCAR, aside from Balash’s flippant, clueless comments.

The lack of response from Joe Gibbs is equally puzzling. Irate Nashville fans and track officials wonder why the organization has made no apology for Busch’s embarrassing and insulting antics. Gibbs usually had the grace to apologize when he was forced to clean up one of Tony Stewart’s similar messes.

Of course it was just a (yawn) second-rate race in some yahoo town. A Cup hotshot swaggers in, scoops off the gravy, trashes the trophy, insults the sponsors, alienates the track and the fans, and blithely jets off to the next day’s Cup race.

No big deal. At least according to NASCAR. 

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 10 2009
15 Comments

15 Comments »

  • Dave says:

    rock star smashing his AXE = race “star” smashing car in victory lap. This act equates more to rock star smashing Grammy award on stage, no?

  • Marybeth says:

    Was KB tested for drugs following his Sat. behavior, from the time he got off his helicopter to his smashing the trophy…? I asked the same question after he deliberately wrecked Colin Braun, the race leader, and Brian Scott during the Charlotte truck race.
    Marybeth

  • darren says:

    Larry;
    I’m not a Nascrap fan one bit. Tie the steering wheel to the roll bar and go in circles. However, The racing sites I go to for information are flooded with this story. Any rational person would understand that it is “HIS” trophy to do with as he see’s fit. What if he said the trophy “in his opinion” was not a traditional Nascrap trophy and then sold it to the highest bidder for beer money? What if he took it home and used it as a door stop in the garage? Anyone who is upset about should get over themselves. Before this happened I had absolutly no idea who Sam Bass was. He has Kyle to thank for introducing me to his work. If Mr Bass is upset about it, remind him of the money and attention he and his work bring him. If he’s still upset, tell him to make a replica for victory lane so his “Hard work” doesn’t get a mark on it. Come on people. There are kids at war sacrificing more than a stupid guitar. Get a grip people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks for the entertainment Kyle.

  • CPB says:

    So NASCAR should start penalizing drivers for their victory lane celebration?! All of the intervening NASCAR does is what is wrong with sport in the first place, and has lead to boring, 0-personality drivers. NASCAR should never penalize a driver for what he says, or better yet, how he celebrates a win.

    If you want to talk about “actions detrimental to stock car racing,” you should be talking about the not-even-close-to-stock-car of tomorrow, the strangle-hold from the TV networks on the sport, the BS Chase, and the several other reasons fans are not going to the track, and not tuning in on TV.

    This has been the only thing anyone has been talking about this week. The racing was boring; the news outlets have tried to make a story out of Stewarts “owner-driver” win, which most of us are smart enough to recognize a re-branded Hendrick car when we see it.

    If it wasn’t for Kyle Busch, there would be no reason to watch a race anymore. He is the show. And don’t even try to tell me that this wouldn’t be a completely different story if Dale Jr. did it. It would be “Oh wow what a rock star, which is what the sport needs…” Of course, he would need to win first to even have that opportunity.

  • Lori anderson says:

    it is never okay to show such disrespect for the fans, Sam Bass and the Nashville Track. A Gibson may only be worth 3,000, but with Sam bass design, it would be more like 25,000 to 30,000. What a waste of a beautiful instrument. Kyle is just a spoiled brat show off. It is too bad, as he has talent which he wastes by his actions.

  • D E Martin says:

    Hey I think about this situation a bit differently! Why is everyone comparing Busch to a rock star in the first place? That’s like comparing apples and oranges as the old saying goes…. The ONLY connection is a guitar! A rock star smashing his/her guitar at the end of a concert can’t be compared to Busch’s latest fiasco. Examples: the guitar is NOT a trophy…..the rock star has NOT won anything…. the rock star is NOT playing to an audience that cares about where he is performing OR even the town he is performing in…. Have you ever heard a rock concert start out with a prayer for safety and the singing of our nation’s anthem?…. the rock star does NOT play to an audience that commands respect for anything!

    Kyle Busch is NOT a rock star!! And no rock star out there is equivalent to Kyle Busch!

    Like I said, “You can’t compare apples & oranges!”

  • AAA says:

    I love how every writer has to bring up Tony every time Kyle does something stupid, as if one has anything to do with the other. Most of Tony’s “incidents” were usually minor reactions to something that got blown totally out of proportion by said writers looking for a good story. What Kyle did was deliberately show off for the cameras and illustrates what an arrogant, smart-butt jerk he is and it was downright disrespectful and juvenile. I don’t think I’m overreacting, I just think it showed incredibly poor judgement.

  • HS says:

    Oh please, enough with the overreaction about the guitar.
    The whole “smashing the guitar” thing has been done for YEARS!
    Why is everyone so upset? And what RIGHT do they have to BE upset?
    Kyle won the race and therefore won the race trophy. It’s his to do with as he sees fit. If he wants to make a bold statement (not to mention mor ethan a little press) by smashing it to the ground, then by all means let him smash HIS guitar.
    It’s not Sam’s, the tracks, the sponsors, mine, yours or anyone else’s say. Maybe next year someone else will win and they can hold it lovingly, thank the sponsors and put in on the mantel. BORING! Will people be talking about the Nationwide Victory Lane 4 days later?!?! I assure you they will not. People LOVE a good story, particularly if they have something to complain about. I say, “Give them something to complain about Kyle!”, it beats anything else out there in the NASCAR world right now.

  • poecat says:

    Hey dirk diggler we are over it, that is untill this weekend at MIS when he does something else stupid, Kyle Busch is not hero he is A disgrace to the sport, if you dont realize that by now then you are A bigger jerk than he is!

  • John Holmes says:

    I say get over it. I loved it, we have been joking for years how it would be funny for someone to go Paul Stanley on the Nashville guitar!

  • poecat says:

    I am glad to see that people are finally seeing Kyle Busch for what he is, a jerk that has no respect for anybody but himself, JT is right if he wins just turn your back on him and dont give him the time of day, where is Jimmie Spencer when you need him?

  • Racemaster says:

    JT has a good idea. Ignore bush baby.

    Whenever he is introduced pre-race or during the driver parade lap–total silence, maybe even turn your back on him as he drives by.

    Whadaya think, fans? If NASCAR or Joe Gibbs doesn’t have the sand to correct this dork, maybe the fans can….

  • JT says:

    Kyle craves attention and will do whatever it takes to get it. The best thing for everyone to do, is turn your back on him. If a child misbehaviors do you reward them, no..so why give him the attention…his high! Booing him at races gives him a rush, do nothing when he’s intro’ed. Treat him as he acts, like a bad little child. Maybe he will learn..no attention until he grows up. Silence is golden folks. Don’t hate him, pity him! It’s worse for fans to pity you because you can’t act like a man.

  • Bobbie83 says:

    None of this really surprises me. The Nationwide series means nothing to Kyle. He’s shown no respect for the Nationwide drivers. Why would he show any respect for one of their trophies.

    If I were Bass or Gibson I’d politely tell Nascar “no thank you” the next time they need a Nashville trophy. And to Kyle who ‘ordered’ two extras. Why can’t he buy each team member a trophy instead of sharing a ‘piece’ of this one?

    God help us if he wins a Championship. Will he step onto the stagae and smash that trophy too?

    Bottom line is Kyle is very insecure. He needs to pull all these stunts in order to gain attention.

  • Jason Cooper says:

    Typical Kyle Busch. Most people do mature with age, but it has been the polar opposite with him. His antics Saturday night were inexcusable. There needs to be something done to him before he hurts someone with his antics.