NASCAR Needs More Bad Boys and Better Rivalries

Stacey MicklesCorrespondent IIMay 25, 2009

DARLINGTON, SC - MAY 09:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyot, stands on pit road before the start of the  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Southern 500 on May 9, 2009 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

NASCAR has always relied on two things: fast cars and rivalries.

Lately, the latter has been lacking. Everyone seems to be too nice these days towards each other. Heck, even Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon are teammates now. It’s hard to have a rivalry when you are working for the same team.

But there was hope last season when Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch got into it a few times. It was getting good when after a race when Busch made fun of Edwards’ smile.


But alas, as the season went on, Busch fell back in the points standings and Edwards ended up second to Jimmie Johnson, killing the tension between the two. Edwards and Matt Kenseth also got into it as well, but I’m sure the folks at Roush-Fenway Racing diffused that incident between the teammates before it got worse, or in this case, got good.


But playing nice may have ended a few weeks ago when Busch called out Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was classic.


Busch basically said he doesn’t want to be popular and that Earnhardt Jr. had all the fans and no wins.  How do you think that little comment sat with Earnhardt? I’m guessing it didn’t sit well at all with him or his faithful fans.


Let’s be honest, what Busch said about Earnhardt is dead on.


He has all these loyal fans, and for what? He doesn’t win much, if any at all. These people are just holdouts from Dale Earnhardt Sr. They have been waiting for years for Junior to turn into his father. Earnhardt Sr. was “the man” in NASCAR.


He came from nothing and built his empire. He did almost anything to win races, including spinning out other drivers to get to the finish line. He was the true bad boy of NASCAR and he loved it. After his death, the same was expected of Junior—that he would be the carbon copy of his daddy.


Despite all the hype, the endorsements, and the fans, Junior has yet to live up to his father’s legacy. But Kyle Busch seems to be ready to take that title. Busch is handsome, young, cocky and brash enough to call out NASCAR’s most popular driver. Not to mention the fact that he actually wins races.


He, like Earnhardt Sr, seems to relish being the most hated man on the circuit and Busch is no dummy. He knows his image will be enhanced even more by his comments and bring him to the fore front of his sport.


Attendance has been down this year and the automakers are struggling. NASCAR needs to have more Kyle Busch’s in their sport if they expect to survive this economic crisis.