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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Joe Gibbs may be just the man to get Kurt Busch's head on straight

When I first heard the story that Kurt Busch could potentially end up behind the wheel of a fourth Joe Gibbs car next year, I kind of had two thoughts about it.

Thought #1: What is he, crazy? He's already got to deal with Kyle, not he'd have Kurt? That would be too much drama to handle.

But then, I though more about it, and I had Thought #2: If anyone can get Kurt's head out of his rear and on top of his head and thinking straight again, it's Joe Gibbs.

I mean, look at his track record. For someone as Christian and holy as he is, Coach has had to deal with a lot of misfits over the years, and usually they ended up at least semi-reformed.

He had to deal with Tony Stewart for many, many years. In the early years, Tony was a terror, fighting with media and fellow drivers on the regular. But after a while, Tony calmed down, and while he remained snarky, most of his really bad behavior went by the wayside.

And then there's Kyle Busch. Sure Kyle still has his moments now and again, most notably the over-the-top Truck race take-out of Ron Hornaday last year, but even he seems to be maturing now under the guidance of Coach Gibbs.

Denny Hamlin has had his moments too, though not to the level of Kyle, but he's starting to mellow too and get his focus back on winning a championship and away from the drama like he had with Brad Keselowski a few years back.

So while I would say most other teams would have a time dealing with a hothead like Kurt, if there's anyone who can deal with him it's Coach Gibbs. The brother dynamic adds a whole new dynamic, but as long as Gibbs gives them competitive cars and they're running well, I don't see any harm coming from it and both Busches could do well. It might even increase the intensity of the competition between them and make them both run better.

So could this actually happen or is it all hype?
Gibbs said this week that if sponsorship is found for a fourth team, the elder Busch wouldn't be ruled out as a driver.

"We love Kurt, mainly because of Kyle and Kyle has got a strong feeling for him," Gibbs said following the unveiling of Toyota's 2013 Sprint Cup car. "Kurt's kind of going through a process with everything he has got going right now. Everybody throws everything out there. We do have a fourth car possibility at some point. But we haven't seen that yet (come to fruition)."

If it did work out, it would fit with Busch's situation, as he is driving for James Finch's team this year and has no plans for 2013. By running well for brother Kyle in the Nationwide series this year, he's showing people like Gibbs what they want to see when considering a driver to hire. He's easily the most talented free agent on the market right now, emotional issues aside.

Kyle said he would like to see the move happen.
"He could really helps us and lead us in the right direction," Kyle Busch said. "I'd love to have him over here. It would be great for Joe Gibbs Racing and for us to work together and to be able to make better racecars, faster racecars."

Do I think it will happen? Probably not. Finding sponsorship for a new Cup car isn't easy.
But, if Gibbs does end up expanding for 2013, KuBu is probably the man, and that make his storyline much more interesting next year as he tries to return to a championship-worthy season and get a second title. I would actually like to see it happen, just to see if he would scream at Coach Gibbs like he did at Roger Penske over the radio. Or who knows, maybe a move to a top team like this could mellow Kurt out? Miracles do happen.

Anyway, that's my take; And I bet that if an expansion at Gibbs is coming, we'll know about it before season end. You don't do a big change like that over the short offseason. For Kurt's sake, I hope it happens, because otherwise he'll be stuck either with Finch again or in another subpar car, and no amount of driver talent can fully make up for a team that's not up to speed with the big boys.

Bonus drama
Joey Logano's contract is up for renewal at Gibbs this year. My guess is they resign him. The kid is only 21 and has a huge upside. He hasn't exactly been "sliced bread", but he is without a doubt talented and is doing better this year. To let him go would just be silly on the part of Gibbs.

Still, Gibbs may be giving Logano some motivation to improve with comments like this: "(There's) been an improvement but he's still not where our other two cars are."

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