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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Given his past actions, Busch has no right to be offended

NASCAR drivers, like many people in this world, often have severe cases of selective memory.

The other guy is always to blame for driving dirty when they end up turned around at the end of a race, but if they do the turning, it was simply an innocent mistake or no big deal. It’s hypocrisy with a capital H.

Kyle Busch, who led more than 400 laps of Saturday night’s race at Bristol until Carl Edwards pulled a classic Bristol bump-and-run to grab the lead toward the end, took this hypocrisy to a whole new level with his comments about Edwards after the race and his decision to drive into the side of Edwards after the checkered flag in order to show his displeasure with Carl’s move (even this move backfired, with Kyle ending up spun around again by Edwards).

“He hit me going into Turn 1,” Busch said. “Whatever, Carl’s going to say he’s sorry, that he didn’t want to race that way, but he always does. We’ll take it, we’ll go on and we’ll race him that way in the Chase if that’s the way he wants to race”

The comments by Busch were a flat-out warning that he won’t be respectful of Edwards during the Chase, allegedly because of what happened tonight. But I’d bet a healthy sum that even if tonight’s incident had never happened, Busch would take some pretty unfriendly actions on the track during the Chase if it gave him an edge in the title hunt. To use what Edwards did tonight as an excuse is silly, as there was nothing dirty about it. If this was dirty, then Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the dirtiest driver ever.

The move pulled off by Edwards to take the lead was perfectly legitimate and has been done time after time at Bristol over the years … often in ways that were much less kind. (Think Terry Labonte being booted by Earnhardt Sr. in 1995 and 1999).

Busch has no reason to complain, and will not gain any fans with such childish actions. If he wants to get offended by somebody continuing the long-standing Bristol tradition of the bump-and-run, he needs to take a course in NASCAR history.

For starters, to state the obvious, Busch has never been shy about pushing people out of the way, especially when a race win was on the line. Busch has been called out by many drivers for his chrome-horn action in all three NASCAR series this season. Most famously, he got into Dale Earnhardt Jr. while trying to take the lead in the Cup race at Richmond this year. In his post-race interview Saturday night, Edwards said he thought back to several instances where Busch had done the same thing to him in the past before deciding to go ahead with the move.

“I couldn’t get by him, and I just had to ask myself, ‘Would he do that to me?’ And he has before, so that’s the way it goes,” Edwards said.

I appreciate Edwards’ honesty in this situation. It’s generally accepted that you will be treated on the racetrack with respect as long as you respect others. Clearly, Busch was treated the way he’s treated others in the past, so if he wants to assign blame for what happened then part of the answer is the guy in the mirror.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can totally understand him being extremely mad after leading the race all night and not winning, but that’s the breaks sometimes. It’s not like he wrecked (he still finished second), and right after Carl pulled his bump Kyle tried to do the same right back … so apparently it’s OK to bump people on SOME occasions (I.e. … when he’s the guy trying to get the lead).

Also, I swear I heard Busch call Edwards “Mr. Ed” in his interview, which was a low blow but indicates that these guys are officially rivals. It was already clear to most people that the title will most likely be decided between Edwards and Busch. And while some people don’t like either driver, you can bet that after Busch’s Saturday night actions and comments, a lot of those fans are going to call Kyle on his hypocrisy and root hard for Edwards to beat him out for the title.

I love seeing the tempers flare at Bristol, as that’s just part of what happens at the track, but it’s really humorous to me that the driver who receives the bump at the end always acts like he’s so surprised it happened.

The part that was most unnecessary was Busch crashing into the side of Edwards’ car after the race. It was a flashback to the immaturity that he was criticized for many times over the past few years while at Hendrick Motorsports. These types of immature acts could end up costing him the championship, so he needs to be careful and keep his head on straight (I’m curious what NASCAR had to say to him in the hauler after the race).

While his talent is undeniable, the thing that bothers me most about Kyle Busch is I get the impression he feels the other drivers should treat him with kid gloves because he’s having such a good year. He doesn’t respond well when people want to aggressively compete with him … as if he thinks NASCAR should just forego the Chase and announce the title is his.

I have a quick word of advice of Kyle Busch:
It’s Bristol. These kind of things just happen here. Get over it and stop acting so offended.

Race notes
Besides the Busch/Edwards drama, much of the excitement of the evening came when Casey Mears’ (soon-to-be-former) spotter told him he was clear to go high when he really wasn’t. The result was he got into Michael Waltrip and triggered a multi-car wreck with major Chase implications for Kasey Kahne.

Beyond the fact that Mears (newly announced as the fourth RCR driver next season) obviously needs a new spotter, the best thing to come out of this was Clint Bowyer’s reaction to the wreck on the radio.

“Michael Waltrip is the worst driver in NASCAR … period. I don’t know why NAPA signed back up with him,” Bowyer said.

Now I recognize this wreck wasn’t Michael’s fault, but this comment made me chuckle, as the argument Clint made over the radio has probably been made by many a NASCAR fan over the past couple years.

Probably the most unnecessary move of the race was Tony Stewart damn near running Jeff Gordon into the wall for what appeared to be no reason whatsoever. Gordon indicated on the radio that he was itching to give some payback, but cooler heads prevailed.

Points implications
The big wreck collected Kahne, who completed his freefall out of the Chase standings -- all the way to 14th in points, 56 points out of the Chase. Clint Bowyer jumped one spot to get back into the Chase, but is only 12 points ahead of David Ragan, who inched to the brink of the Chase with a top-10 run. A strong 3rd place run by Denny Hamlin moved him up to 11th and he was much happier than he was after last week’s race.

The spread from 7th-place Greg Biffle to 13th-place Ragan is only 141 points, so a lot can still happen in the next two races.

I foresee Ragan continuing his impressive run and grabbing the final Chase spot from Bowyer at Richmond.

Downside of the Chase
Carl Edwards made a comment that disturbed me during a pre-race interview Saturday. He said that for the next few weeks, he was going for wins, and once the Chase starts he’s going to be points racing.

I like the drama the Chase creates as we approach its start, and I can appreciate a driver being a little more careful during the “playoffs” of NASCAR. But it bothers me that many of the top dozen drivers may not be giving it their all and going for wins for the final 10 races. Call me old-school if you want, but I’d just like to see every driver going for the win each week.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got to agree with you. I've been rooting for Kyle, but he took 3 steps forward and 4 steps back at Bristol. It's Bristol and I've seen a lot harder "bump and runs" done there. Kyle is lucky he was still in one piece to finish second. If Rusty or Dale or the old school drivers had done it, he probably would have been sitting in the pits wondering if there was enough car left to put back together.

August 24, 2008 at 9:21 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I have to say is Kyle Busch never hesitates to push his way to the front. So quit acting like a 6 year old, buck up and move on!

August 24, 2008 at 4:11 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever writes this blog doesn't know squat about racing and Nascar! Carl Edwards has been one dirtiest drivers in Nascar for years! He hasn't been heard from for the last year or so because he hasn't been close winning, neither has his teammate Matt "the brat" Kenseth. This year is a different story he's been winning (don't get in his way he'll punt you for sure so will Kenseth) BTW Carl's "bump" nearly spun Kyle if it been a different driver they probably would spun. I raced for nearly 30 years and dirty driving is dirty driving, keeping it clean is the only respectable way to win.

August 24, 2008 at 6:20 PM 
Anonymous wilbur said...

Yep. He did call Carl "Mr Ed".

A horse is horse, of course, of course,......

August 24, 2008 at 6:46 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Kyle's racing and his raw talent--but stop crying like a baby; Wallace or Dale Sr. would have left Kyle pasted to the wall; that is what is wonderful about Bristol, the bump and run. Sure it hurts your pride. Get over it Kyle. Maybe papa Gibbs needs to have a heart to heart. Hmm, maybe I need to start rooting for Carl Edwards...

August 24, 2008 at 8:35 PM 
OpenID cshomeinspector said...

Fact: Kyle Busch can drive a race car. ANY race car. He really is that good.

Fact: Kyle Busch is an arrogant whiny little boy that needs to get his a$$ kicked. He is just so full of himself. His press center post-race interview made me hate him even more.

He will get what's coming to him.

August 25, 2008 at 7:49 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He'll get whats coming to him alright,

The Pretty Gold Flags on the Nextel Cup Trophy

Go, Busch, Go.

September 4, 2008 at 8:53 PM 

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