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Monday, May 31, 2010

Hamlin's right: Busch isn't mature enough to lead team

Ah … drama. It’s back, just in time for the TNT portion of the NASCAR schedule. (Side note: No more “boogity boogity boogity” silliness, a good reason to celebrate)

This is the last thing Joe Gibbs wanted to see, but it’s apparent that the Kyle Busch-Denny Hamlin spat from last week’s All-Star race is not over.

Busch, who was clearly in the wrong last week and had no reason to be upset, apparently recognized that and has no further comment on the issue, other than to say he’s over “the Denny Hamlin issue.” He knows, just like Hamlin and the rest of the world, that it was the All-Star race and Hamlin did nothing other than hold his line, and Busch basically wrecked himself.

Hamlin, though, was clearly still annoyed by Kyle’s outburst after the race last week, and teed off on his teammate to the media.
First; "Kyle brings this stuff on himself, and he gets mad at the media for asking him questions about his blowups. But he does it to himself. I don't want to be part of it. Any drama that he wants to create is on him. Anything he says on the radio is on him.”

Then: All I'm going to say, and I'm going to be done with it, is that each year I think Kyle's going to grow and he just doesn't. Until he puts it all together, that's when he'll become a champion, and right now he just doesn't have himself all together."

Finally, my favorite: "I didn't say that I was going to take over this team or be the leader of this team, but somebody's got to be the leader. And it ain't going to be Kyle.”

I’m guessing these two won’t be going fishing together anytime soon. And If Joe Gibbs is smart (and he most definitely is), he’ll call some kind of emergency summit soon to patch this up, as there’s much potential for the situation to deteriorate at JGR if these guys continue to be mad at each other.

In addition to his spat with Hamlin, Busch is continuing to alienate other drivers. This week, the usually diplomatic Jeff Burton took exception to a late move by Busch that helped lead to Burton cutting a tire and dropping back about 20 spots in the finishing order. The normally reserved Burton was livid on pit road and got in Busch’s face about the incident.

When you make people angry like that on a regular basis, it’s hard to focus on being any kind of team leader. And let’s be honest, Kyle Busch has always been about himself anyway. You could say that about all racers, but the label fits him especially. If he doesn’t win, he’s just mad at the world and really couldn’t care less how his teammates finished.

So Hamlin may have a point. I would say he is clearly the team leader. Kyle may rack up as many or more wins than Denny in 2010, but Hamlin appears to have a more mature head on his shoulders than Busch, which would make him the defacto leader at JGR.

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