Kyle Busch is the Greatest!
What’s that you say? You can’t stand his smug little self and the depressing media appearances he makes? You jump and boo when he is announced at driver introductions? You even cheer if he wrecks out of a race?
Oh, I know you do. And I happen to know that you aren’t necessarily a Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., or Kevin Harvick fan. You may not even wear a favorite driver’s number when you head out to the track, preferring to cheer for the sport as a whole. But you still have joined the vast majority of NASCAR Nation in making noise whenever the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Toyota appears on your television screen.
See, Kyle Busch may not only be heading towards his personal goal of 200 NASCAR race wins (he says that 100 of them will happen in the XFINITY Series,) he has also become what our sport has needed ever since Tony Stewart became such a nice guy. Kyle Busch has moved into the lonesome rank of NASCAR Villain.
In fact, while sitting with the unwashed masses in the stands, it became very clear that while loyalties in favor of different drivers is fairly mixed among fans, there is a unifying factor that drives the conversation between stables. Kyle Busch is the greatest at being the worst.
Personally, I haven’t experienced this level of passion since Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jeff Gordon were fighting it out back in the glory days. Even then, though, there was this great divide which served as its own bonding agent among racing fans. The No. 3 crowd stood on one side of the room and the Rainbow Warriors inhabited the other. Presently a curious thing has happened. The room is crowded with all sorts with one common problem–Kyle Busch.
For NASCAR though, this is exactly for what they’ve been looking over a long period of time. It creates a common point of reference when massive groups of loyal Stewart, Gordon, and Earnhardt Jr. fans are losing their reason to tune in on Sunday afternoons. While many are considering which of the youngsters they want to support, Busch is happily supplying reasons to keep the television on by speeding on pit road, spinning out, grumbling about life, and occasionally hunting down the competition on pit road and landing a punch. The fact that Busch is also facing a year-long victory drought simply adds a little more spice to the anti-Kyle sauce.
This collective dislike of Busch was highlighted yet one more time on Sunday afternoon as the Twitterverse was busy declaring the Brickyard 400 a yawner with about 50 laps to go. After all, Busch had been taunting the entire field in between red flags and really, the race was threatening to be something of a yawner. But no, we had a restart and Martin Truex Jr. was running hard, got his left front tire on the transition and ended up finishing the day for both his No. 78 and Busch’s Skittles machine.
Yes! Busch was denied once again. The sense of satisfaction washed across NASCAR Nation and we sized up the rest of the field. Now we could get down to the business of cheering for somebody.
Okay, so the remainder of the day was ultimately disappointing. Nobody likes to see terrifying wrecks and the sunset determine the day, but we were still left with the realization that this was a good day, simply because it had been a bad one for our favorite villain.
When the rest of the racing headlines are driven by personalities that the fans struggle to get emotional over (i.e.: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne), Kyle Busch is working hard to ensure that we will tune in next week once again, if only to ensure that he will continue to have victory slip through his fingers. (I may be channeling a little bit of Star Wars right there.)
There is one thing that NASCAR has just about mastered: drying the track. Once again the Air Titans saved the day and shortened what may have been an overnight delay in years past by cleaning up all 2 1/2 miles of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in just over an hour. In the jet-dryer days we may have returned to racing after three hours and been stuck with a shortened event, or postponed until Monday.
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