Race Weekend Central

Racing to the Point: The Wait Continues for the New Kyle Busch

We’ve been waiting a long time for the new Kyle Busch.

You know the one I’m talking about: the guy that plows through adversity because his maturity matches his talent. It’s the new Kyle Busch that is going to realize his potential, pile up Sprint Cup wins and score championships with ease.

Unfortunately, he’s a fictional character. Every once in awhile, like the Loch Ness Monster, someone thinks they’ve spotted the new Kyle Busch, but they can’t be certain and his existence still hasn’t been proven.

Sporting News writer Bob Pockrass thought he saw the new Kyle Busch during the Chase last year. In a September 2013 article, Pockrass referred to a more relaxed Busch, someone who had seemingly had that what-the-hell-have-I-been-doing epiphany. Pockrass claimed that the new Kyle Busch smiled and seemed at peace.

It turned out to be a fake sighting. Don’t blame Pockrass; he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to say they’ve spotted the new Kyle Busch. He’s a tricky species; maybe those folks from Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot can help because we’ve got a very similar situation. Since Busch entered the Cup Series full-time, in 2005 reports have surfaced all over the Internet from people claiming to have spotted the new Kyle Busch.

Ten seasons in, however, its existence remains a mystery. Busch is no longer the teenage prodigy Rick Hendrick plucked from the local short tracks. He’s a 29-year-old NASCAR veteran. Busch’s immaturity was apparent when he entered Cup full-time at age 20, but maturity and decision-making aren’t strengths of most 20-year-olds. So we waited and we waited some more for Busch to transform into the new Kyle Busch, like a caterpillar would turn into a butterfly.

In 2008, when Busch arrived at Joe Gibbs Racing, realizing his infinite potential seemed possible. He won eight races, before an unexpected Chase collapse and while he wasn’t ready to compete with Jimmie Johnson for a championship, we thought, maybe next year. The guy that’s capable of dominating to that degree has to win a championship at some point, right?

Here is the list of drivers to win eight races in a single season in the modern era (1975-present) who haven’t won a championship: Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman. That’s it.

2014 Daytona II NNS Kyle Busch with Sharpie CIA
Kyle Busch: old or new? (Credit: CIA Stock Photography)

But six years have passed since Busch won those eight races, and he hasn’t even come close to winning a title. He won’t this year, either. It isn’t because he doesn’t have a Hendrick motor (although he’d like for you to believe that’s why) or the car to do it. He won’t win because of himself. Approaching age 30, Busch still remains his own nemesis.

That’s been evident all summer, but especially showed Saturday night at Bristol. He took the lead from Jeff Gordon before the competition caution, only to speed down pit road on the first round of pit stops. He sped through the first timing line like it was a reporter seeking a post-race interview. Classic Busch. As a result, he started from the rear of the field, got caught up in someone else’s accident and spent the rest of the race driving an ill-handling piece of junk as the field continuously looped him on the outside.

Call it bad luck if you want, but Busch’s own carelessness put him in that precarious position back in the pack. I predicted in my article last week that he was getting ready to dive off the deep end; I just expected his rage to be directed at another driver. I never could’ve predicted multiple verbal sparring matches with crew chief Dave Rogers.

“You didn’t fix the problem,” Busch shouted over the radio. “The suspension is broke. I need a whole new right-front suspension. I will be behind the wall in about two f**king laps.”

Rogers responded: “Park it behind the truck and take your whiny little ass to the bus.”

I assume Rogers was talking about the school bus; hopefully, there was a chaperone waiting for Busch there.

Rogers and Joe Gibbs downplayed the situation afterward, like usual, but it really shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. Entering Bristol, Kyle was like the kid who ate Pixy Stix for breakfast, Smarties for lunch, then M&Ms for dinner – and now he’s not being cooperative.

The writing’s been on the wall all summer. After a second-place finish at Indianapolis, he looked like a kid whose puppy just died in the post-race interview. Then, he lost an engine at Pocono. After Marcos Ambrose beat him in the Nationwide race at Watkins Glen, Busch complained that Ambrose was racing with nothing to lose, like he was an insane person just released from the asylum. (God forbid he go anywhere near him.) A day later, after a poor qualifying effort Busch tried to pass Martin Truex, Jr. in the middle of the carousel — a passing zone only when the guy in front of you flies off the track. When Truex didn’t run off, letting Busch by, Busch intentionally ran into the No. 78 car in the next right-hander. Too bad Busch got the worst of the damage, forced to go behind the wall at a race he won the previous year. Then, at Michigan, he was the first wreck.

Saturday night marked the fourth straight run of 36th or worse, a slump that’s sagged him to 17th in points. So if it wasn’t Rogers at Bristol, Busch could’ve unleashed his fury on anyone – Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Dale Jarrett, the guy in the Goodyear Blimp? Who knows?

Is Busch lacking horsepower? Yes, definitely. But he’s not alone.

Maybe he should strap into one of the BK Racing cars for a couple of weeks. It’ll be like one of those Beyond Scared Straight situations. He’ll crawl back to Gibbs kissing the shop floor. Even with a subpar engine, he drives some of the best equipment on the circuit. Matt Kenseth drives it too, and he isn’t 17th in points like Busch, but fifth. He has so many points that despite not having a win, he could not show up for the next two races and still get in the playoffs.

“You look at what you did wrong,” Busch told Pockrass last year. “You try not to repeat those same mistakes and continue to build in what you’ve done this year because this year is entirely different than years past.

“(In past Chases), there were times that something happened to the car. And there were certain times where maybe the car wasn’t perfect and I get frustrated and I make the situation worse.”

Come 2014, nothing has changed. Busch said that in 2013, claiming to be the new Kyle Busch. That was two years after getting suspended for a race, and a year after melting down and missing the Chase.

Rogers admitted last year to Pockrass that in the last couple of years, “I got to a point where I was tired of hearing of the new Kyle.”

We’re tired too, Dave. The new Kyle Busch isn’t here and isn’t walking through that door anytime soon.

Until he does, we’ll just keep waiting.

About the author

Brett starts his fourth year with the Frontstretch in 2014, writing the popular Racing To The Point commentary on Tuesdays. An award-winning Connecticut Sportswriter and Editor, Brett resides in the Constitution State while working towards his dream of getting involved in racing full-time.

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Good article but really nothing new. Anybody who thought Kyle was reborn into a life of maturity was fooling themselves, much like his brother who is overdue to go off the rails again soon, imo. Both men credit the women in their life to their “turnaround”. Always seemed like normal P.R bull to me. Their true personalities are always in a public slumber waiting to awake at the first sign anything remotely deemed a negative challenge, and then their inability to cope with the adversary when presented becomes a display that most people would be embarrassed about..not these two.

These man-children will not and cannot change, imo. Kyle’s actions this weekend were insufferable. His display at the NW event and post race conference and just about everything he did at Bristol Saturday night, was draining and not in a good way. Joe and JD Gibbs are running a daycare center with Kyle and Denny. Thank goodness Logano is no longer there. Matt is mature enough not to get sucked into the drama. Joe and JD are huge enablers and do a disservice to the rest of the team members that they employ by subjecting them to these outbursts. It is a stressful job on race day and one can forgive a lot, but a some point, you should know the difference between a guy just losing it, or a pattern of belittling and childish tantrums. Nobody at JGR seems to care as the Mars family seems to rally around Kyle all the time, so the dollars continue to roll in. Somebody at Mars must enjoy his antics, it is their money to spend, I know. Many can wax on about his abilities, nobody is doubting it, but to be a true champion one has to be well rounded in all disciplines. What good is it to have these records and stats if you are remembered first as a jerk? Joe needs to get this organization to a level of respect with regards to is in his employ. From the outside looking in..the toddlers are running the place.

Linda Walden

In 2008, Carl Edwards won 9 races and didn’t win a championship. Was this just another way to belittle Kyle? Or does winning 9 races without a championship not matter?

Bill B

Whenever I analyze the Busch brothers behavior I can’t help but question their upbringing. Didn’t their parents teach them how to behave, that they weren’t the center of the universe, that other people’s feelings matter too?

If there was ever an example of how talent alone doesn’t guarantee success it is Kyle. He has wasted ten years of his career IMO.


Kurt & Kyle both were apparently raised by wolves. It certainly doesn’t appear that they were taught any manners since they both behaved poorly from the get go in their careers (and from what I’ve read before they got to NASCAR).

Kyle can choose to grow up or not, maybe he needs to go the rounds of all the teams like his older brother did to get a little perspective, but then again, Kurt hasn’t really changed either.

Gibbs has some responsibility in this, too,other than Kenseth, he has drivers who are the worst as far as public perception goes – they may have talent, but based on their behavior, they aren’t people I’d like to be around. Speaking of MARS candy, well, I stopped eating their candy when they went to Busch as a sponsor and I wrote them a letter and told them why — $ talks.

Tim Krehbiel

I was a Kyle Bush fan. He has talent, but to quit with 50 laps to go? WTF you get how much money to drive that car? And the sponsor pays how much to have there name on the car you quit on before the end? Quite a 100 year gift you gave to them. I thought that Samantha’s education was in psych. Was she happy with your decision to quit? Get your head screwed on right! And do it soon or get out of the sport. If you can’t get the mental part you will never get to the top, EVER!


I apologize. I am going to be serious for a moment. People in Haiti are living under collapsed structures and dreaming of fresh water and I am pissing and moaning when the cable goes out for an hour. I’m ashamed of myself every time I do it. Which believe it or not leads to Kyle Busch. Suppose you were not that bright, had a very unpleasant personality, and to top it off you bore a striking resemblance to Jar Jar Binks. Now suppose you made a zillion dollars because you had a real talent for something completely useless. Racing is really just entertainment, he doesn’t drive an ambulance. Instead of reveling in his good fortune Kyle Busch never seems to be happy about anything. Having to BE Kyle Busch is about the worst punishment that could be inflicted on him.

Ron Schwalbe

Very well said !


Excellent article. Everytime Kyle acts like a normal person everyone heralds the arrival of the new Kyle Busch. This article lays out what a lotta people have been saying. The dude is just a bum. Talent will only get t you so far. Look at Derek Jeter and Manny Rameriez…or Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice. You have to have the temperement to defeat adversity or you will never become a champion. Youll always be just a player.


Kyle is one of the “very few” drivers in the sport who at least has some personality and isn’t afraid to show it. You guys call him out because he has more talent and desire to win than most of the rest of the field. As good as he is, Jimmy Johnson has no personality and all of the other drivers are afraid to say anything because of corporate political correctness. If it wasn’t for Kyle, what would you guys write about?

Bill B

What a road of clap. Lame justification for bad behavior. So acting like a jackass means you want to win more? I hear Gibbs may have a job open,,, “Head Enabler”. You should apply.

Ron Schwalbe

They’d write about GROWN UPS – who treat people civilly !


Now, now, boys, technically he is correct. Personality by definition is neither positive or negative. Being an obnoxious, self absorbed, volcanic a hole are just a few of Kyle’s many personality traits.


I don’t know Kyle but I do observe his foolish behavior. No one has the right to belittle another person but that has never stopped Kyle. How it is that someone hasn’t broken his jaw is mind numbing to me.


You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle adversity. Kyle, not so well. It’s never his fault , kind of like Jimmie Johnson. At least Kyle doesn’t blame the tires and get them delivered from the Bedrock factory.

Ann Logan

Ok why don’t you get some of the facts right-these comments are from Dave-right after the race: “Kyle was trying to communicate to what was wrong with the car,” he said. “I couldn’t hear him most the time and could not communicate with him. It just led to more frustration. Dave did not hear Kyle say his front end was gone.
Also regarding the speeding penalty-that Dave apologized to Kyle for-over the radio. So you can get those comments too-but you wouldn’t: “We look at tonight; we got a little too aggressive on pit road. There was miscommunication about our lights, Kyle didn’t do anything wrong. We just talked about it last minute, we miscommunicated, that leads to a speeding penalty, that puts us behind, we get caught up in someone else’s mess. It’s frustrating.”
And you are taking the “new Kyle” comment from Dave out of context. He was not referring to Kyle-BUT to the media always saying it. I HEARD & WATCHED that interview. It was on T.V. & both Kyle & Dave were being interviewed.
And finally I was at the race-with the scanner on. Kyle was actually pretty damn quite all night. Besides getting mad about the mishap on the speeding. And the when he couldn’t be heard about the suspension. When the crew didn’t get all the gas in his car. Dave told him to come back in. & Kyle very calm-said “We might has well stay out & gamble for a caution. Also when the crew were having difficulties on pit road-for the repairs. Kyle was quite during that whole time
And if he so called quit racing-why were quite a few drivers PISSED at him because he was racing them too hard-being 4 laps down.
Where is the story on Kasey Kanes meltdown-because he also had one


No one is talking about KK’s total meltdown. Writers like this guy just want to make Kyle look bad.

Ann Logan

I know!!! Kasey was yelling & freaking out. He was saying his car couldn’t turn, couldn’t drive, & was falling apart.

Ann Logan

You are right. They take things out of context. Rewrite history. Omit important facts. Leave out comments that clarify what happened- from parties that were involved. KNOWING full well that the majority of their readers will jump on their shoddy so called journalism-to have an excuse to bash Kyle.

Ann Logan

Another quote from Dave: “So, we got to air things out. Had a great talk. I think we’ll be better for it going forward.”
While the pair had a heated exchange over the radio, Rogers said cooler heads prevailed in the hauler, as the team hashed things out.
“Me and Kyle came back here and we talked after the race and aired everything out. I got to hear his side of the story. Of course, you sit down and talk with someone you realize there’s a lot more to the story than you knew initially. He heard mine,” Rogers said.”

In reality if you would play Kyle’s scanner from start to finish. Kyle probably talked a whole of 10 minutes. He was not bitching all night at Dave-nor was he whining all night. Honestly the voice you heard 95% of the time was Tony’s-his spotter.
Also when Dave asked Kyle what he needed for his car-after not getting the gas filed” Kyle calmly said ” I am tight-but that is probably because we are low on fuel”

Ann Logan

Replaying the whole night in my head. The person on the 18 team who lost his cool & had a meltdown was Dave. Dave admits and has stated that he was responsible for the speeding incident. When Kyle got caught up in the wreck. There was a bit of panic in Dave’s voice. The pit road repairs did not go smoothly. There were a couple of times that Dave 2nd guessed himself-and changed his mind. Also twice the crew did not get out from under the car fast enough. Again the whole time Kyle remained quite. And the whole time it had to be in the back of Dave’s mind-about the speeding penalty.

I thought it was strange that Dave did not acknowledge Kyle-when Kyle told him the front end was gone-and he had probably 2 more laps. Dave brought him in for 4 tires & fuel. But that is when Dave could not hear Kyle.

So after Kyle went back on the track-and asked ” Didn’t anyone hear me-me whole f-ing front end is gone” And when Dave came on the radio & said get “your whiny ass in the garage” I was thinking where the hell did that come from??? Because like I stated before Kyle was actually pretty damn quite the whole race.

Again listen to the whole race start to finish-alos was there in front of the pit box. Listening & watching.

Ann Logan

Lets talk about Championships:

Carl 9 wins 1 Season 2008-did NOT win Championship
Last year Matt 8 wins-did NOT win Championship-yes I know he has one
Denny points lead-fail to win
Mark Martin-never won one
Jr-never won one
Burton-never won one
Bifle-never won one
Bowyer-never won one
Newman-never won one

And the list can go on & on.

So where is the psychological analysis on why all of those TOP TEIR drivers have failed to win a Championship-except Matt???????


Ignorance is bliss! I stand by Kyle 100%… thank you for posting the other drivers.


Lets see you get out there and do it. Kyle was quite calm at first about his suspension. Tell me after repeating yourself over and over and get no response, you wouldnt get angry. Why dont you get all the facts instead of only the faults. Its obvious youre a Kyle Busch hater so, why not only point out the negative? Dave Rogers has constantly been making bad pit calls. Id be angry too. I cant wait til Kyle proves haters wrong. There are plenty of drivers that have been racing in the sprint cup series longer than Kyle. Why arent they thrown under the bus? Some people are so stupid, it never ceases to amaze me. Maybe rather than being an honest racer, he should get Jimmie & Chads cheat sheets out & follow in their steps. Haters are motivators. Kyle is passionate about the sport. Kyle is a damn good wheelman. I believe 100% without a doubt, theres a championship right around the bend

Shawn Woolsey

Yeah Buddy! I second every comment. Way to respond!!!

Shawn Woolsey

This is about the biggest piece of garbage I’ve read in a long time. And that includes all the b.s. Stories out there about Tony.
You sir are a scab feeding off the face of humanity. You have no real worth to the world so you climb in your digital Ivory Tower and heap this crap on everyone in a vain attempt to find some scrap of self worth… You have never accomplished anything that will matter to anyone.
I am glad this article is digital as I would probably get a rash using as toilet paper were it a paper copy.

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