Kyle Busch: Has A Line Been Crossed?
Kyle Busch is one of the most polarizing drivers in NASCAR today. In many ways, he is reminiscent of the late Dale Earnhardt in his hard charging style of driving and constant pursuit of a victory at any cost.
The Lenox Industrial Tools 301 race at New Hampshire last weekend was evidence of this fact.
During a lap 175 restart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun his tires and stalled the lower groove. Kyle Busch unintentionally spun out Martin Truex Jr. who was trying to find a way around, and the 18 car set off a multiple car crash that dramatically affected the outcome of the race.
These types of incidents are common to motorsports, and no one should think that Kyle was trying to wreck the field. The chance of damaging his own car is too great, but more patience on the restart would have allowed the situation to resolve itself.
On the track, bold moves often make the difference between a top five finish and a marginal performance.
But when is a driver too aggressive?
In two separate incidents in the pits during the race, Kyle Busch struck a competitor's pit crew member.
When exiting the tight pit stall on lap 45, the 18 car brushed against the rear tire changer for Paul Menard's team. Steve Addington was quick to discuss the situation with the Yates team and clear up any discontent between them.
However, in a more serious incident on lap 153, Busch was attempting to navigate his way out of the pits and struck Bill Ferguson, the jackman for Clint Bowyer's 33 car.
The impact sent Ferguson sailing over Busch's hood and to the pavement, while the jack landed 10 feet away. Had Ferguson not anticipated the impact, the results could have been far more serious.
Safety equipment for crews have come a long way, but this impact could have left Ferguson permanently disabled or possibly worse.
After the race, Busch commented on the incident, saying that, "I had to pick my way through," and that, "I couldn't stop or back up. Time on pit road is too precious."
"It's dangerous on pit road, but that's why the guys wear firesuits and helmets."
Car 33 driver Clint Bowyer was less than forgiving to Busch when he commented on the pit road incident, saying, "You've got the steering wheel and you've got the pedals. You can either hit the brakes or hit the gas, and the wrong foot went down."
Has Kyle Busch become a menace to his fellow competitors?
It was known early on that the race was likely to be rain shortened, and Kyle Busch has never performed to the best of his ability at New Hampshire.
But these three separate incidents highlight that a driver can cross a line between aggressive driving and endangering the safety of other participants. Even at pit road speeds, a stock car can produce life threatening injuries if there is an impact with other crew members in the vicinity.
The race Sunday make one question if Kyle Busch has lost sight of the fact that winning the race at any cost is not an acceptable excuse to disregard the personal safety of others.
Kyle Busch has the potential to become a legendary driver, not many that follow the sport closely question that fact. But there is little achievement in a driving style that wins races, but endangers others, and loses the respect of those who would like to continue to be his competitors.
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