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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Busch has himself to blame for his car becoming a pinball

The infield care center was Kyle Busch’s second home on Saturday.

First, after his run during the intense heat in the Grand-Am race for Chip Ganassi, he went there to get some IV fluids as a precautionary measure.

Then, the Firecracker 400 ended with Busch being the pinball in a real-life 180 mph video game … First hitting the wall head-on after making contact with Tony Stewart, then getting RAMMED harder than I’ve seen in a while by Kasey Kahne, and finally getting T-boned on the driver’s side by teammate Joey Logano.

It wasn’t quite as shocking as Carl Edwards’ close encounter with the fans at Talladega, but it was still quite a sight to see, and collected a good dozen cars, some of whom were able to cross the finish line, and some who weren’t.

So, as usual when something like this happens, the question comes up: What’s to blame? Is it restrictor plate racing itself, which bunches up the field so much? Perhaps. I agree the plates need to go, but they can’t be given all the blame in situations like this.

There’s another factor so many people forget about – the drivers.

Kyle Busch did not have to drive directly into Tony Stewart in his attempt to win the race. It’s ironic that Busch appeared to be angry at Stewart after the race, as if Stewart had done something wrong. All he did was drive in a straight line. It’s not his fault that Busch made the move he made.

The same goes for the big Talladega wreck. Carl Edwards tried to block when he knew he was already beaten, and he ended up in the air. The same thing happened at Daytona to Busch. To Edwards’ credit, he admitted it was his fault, and was even jovial enough to run across the finish line after emerging from his car’s wreckage. Busch, of course, went off to sulk as usual, but this time I’ll give him a pass for the media snub -- After getting knocked around like that, I don’t even know if he recognized what time zone he was in.

But going back to the wreck, I’m pretty sure that Busch will come to realize once he sees the footage that the entire thing was his doing. He had just taken the lead for the first time all race with a couple laps to go, but on the final lap Tony Stewart was clearly faster.

Stewart was on Busch’s bumper as close as he could possibly be, hoping to get him loose and slide by for the win in the final turns. And just when it was clear that Stewart, the faster car, was going to do that – Busch basically drove into Stewart. The rest is history.

I understand why he did it. It’s Daytona, the holiest of all NASCAR tracks, and all drivers will do almost anything to win there. So I’m not criticizing Kyle Busch for wanting to win.

But if I hear one word out of his mouth about how he got a raw deal and Stewart played dirty, I’m going to have to chuckle. Because it was his too-late blocking move that caused those dozen or so cars to become garbage heaps … and Stewart has no reason to apologize like he did in Victory Lane.

In short, I have to differ with the TNT announcing team, who said it’s not fair to blame anyone when these wrecks happen, because they say anything goes on the last lap at Daytona. It’s pretty clear to me who was at fault Saturday night, and his name is Kyle Busch. And I’m fairly certain he’ll come to the same conclusion after watching the end of the race.


Blogger William said...

I think this article did a very good job describing what happened but raised another point I would like to comment on: "and Stewart has no reason to apologize like he did in Victory Lane."

This is at least twice this year that Bush caused the wreck and somehow Logano and Stewart, respectively, felt it was their problem because Bush slinks off and is not honest enough to admit his mistake. Logano who did nothing wrong looked like he sank the Titanic and Stewart lost the deserved joy for winning a race where he led the most laps.

He has no problem pushing people out of the way to win or "blocking" Stewart (with his quarter panel?!) but shame on anyone else that does not allow him to his rightful position in the winner's circle.

I like that he's exciting,is a good driver and wants to win more than anything but he is the personification of a bad sport--if he doesn't win it's always someone else's fault.

July 5, 2009 at 6:36 AM 
Anonymous Chad said...

Wow. Kyle races clean all night, goes for the win and tries to protect his position and gets wrecked and you find some way to blame it on him. Genius! Not that is was entirely Tony's fault either. I thought these cars were supposed to put an end to the plates. Then we wouldn't have these stupid packs leading to the winner of the race wrecking. Unfortunately, it seems like NASCAR us waiting for something terrible to happen before they fix it.

July 5, 2009 at 6:39 AM 
Blogger carl86 said...

i absolutely agree with your assessment of the wreck. I couldn't believe noone at Dega didn't punt him up in the stands. He has a habit of jumping out of line in front of anyone with a big run. Maybe this will teach him a lesson, but i doubt it since there's not much between those big ole rat ears!

July 5, 2009 at 8:03 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt, just a few questions for you:
1)While restrictor plates keep the field somewhat bunched up, don't you think the "debris" caution at the end (getting to be a NASCAR trademark)had as much to do with the finish as anything else?
2) After the big wreck at the end, I saw Kyle get out of his car and walk back to pit road, where he was forceably manhandled into going to the care center. Where did you see him appear to be angry at Stewart?
3) Kyle had the lead and was protecting his position, what else did you expect him to do with 500 yards to go to the finish line?

July 5, 2009 at 8:31 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

Re: Anonymous
1)I agree that NASCAR uses phantom cautions to manipulate the plate races so this kind of stuff can happen and they get more attention on Sportscenter. They play a big role in this type of wreck happening so often. If you look back, the cars were pretty strung out before that caution.

2) I heard from some people that he was looking to confront Stewart after the race, but perhaps I was misled there.

3) On this point, I disagree ... at the time Busch made the move that sent him into the wall, Stewart had gained an advantage over him and Busch had no realistic shot at keeping the spot. Like I said, he's a racer and I don't fault him for trying to win. But he knew it was not going to end pretty when he made that move.

July 5, 2009 at 9:33 AM 
Anonymous NinjaRob said...


What great racing we would have if Kyle was 'protecting his postion' Basically all you need to do then is get out front, and block like crazy for 160 laps?? Wow, think I will watch paint dry instead...

If you block agressivly (and I don't care if you it was Kyle OR anyone else) you get what you deserve. Racing is not supposed to be about making yourself an annoying roadblock, it is about being FASTER.


July 5, 2009 at 10:38 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, I would agree with you on this 100% if it took place all race long. Trouble with your theory is that it took place starting on the last turn of the last lap. Hardly enough time for paint to dry.
Matt, You are basing your conclusion that Kyle did not have a realistic chance of holding his position based on reviewing the replays of the initial contact several times from multiple vantage points. Kyle made his decision in a fraction of a second and at 180 mph. Had his move caused Tony to lift just a tick, the outcome would have been different.
Regarding the third party rumor about Kyle looking for a confrontation with Tony, well shame on you for spreading rumors!!

July 5, 2009 at 1:55 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jerrylee, one of the responses said
if any thing bad happens while nascar alows blocking , does anybody remember why dale sr. got wrecked and killed

July 5, 2009 at 2:10 PM 
Blogger Sue said... agreement with a lot of what was written in your article (and the comments posted) However...I disagree with one point. I don't believe Kyle will ever understand or own up to the mistake causing this incident. It's not in his character to do so. There are not many drivers who are able to walk away or beg off an interview as many times as he has this season especially. My issue with Kyle is not his driving ability, his stats back that up, it's his post race attitude taht portraits an ungrateful attitude if he doesn't win. This NASCAR fan is extremely tired of the 2 year old tantrum! I think he needs to be reminded that NASCAR is a team sport and there's no "I" in team.

I hope once Tony sees the replays he will enjoy this win for and with his team. It was greatly deserved.

July 5, 2009 at 2:56 PM 

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