Bristol Motor Speedway followed in the footsteps of MLB, the NBA, and the NHL by playing preselected music during driver introductions for the Sharpie 500 on Saturday night.
Each driver was allowed to select a song to be played while being introduced to the crowd.
Kyle Busch, by the recommendation of Scott Speed, chose "Amazing" by Kanye West.
With an estimated crowd of 160,000 roaring fans, it’s hard to imagine anyone heard the short snippet being played.
Either way, the first verse said it all:
I’m the reason
Everybody fired up this evening
Busch was certainly the reason for the roar. Love him or hate him, he’s in the race and will be for a very long time.
It’s not the racing that’s drawing fans to Busch, though. It’s the lure of what will happen next.
Busch has become the Howard Stern of NASCAR. His outrageous antics, trash-talking mouth, and crybaby tantrums have become weekly fodder for the media.
His behavior has ruffled some feathers in the NASCAR world and drawn sharp criticism across the board. However, like Stern, when you ask those detractors why they keep tuning in, the overwhelming response is a simple statement:
“To see what happens next.”
It wasn’t that long ago there was another Kyle Busch manufacturing media fodder week after week in the NASCAR tabloids.
His name was Tony Stewart. Not too long before that, his name was Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Unlike Stewart and Busch, Earnhardt did most of his talking on the track, rarely from behind a microphone.
Stewart the owner is certainly a different person than Stewart the driver.
Could it be that Stewart has changed his ways now that he’s Stewart the owner? It’s a well-known fact that sponsors pay the bills, and sponsors don’t like negative press. Do more fans like the docile Stewart, or do they want the bad boy back? Are there fans who hated Stewart then as they do Busch now?
In an interview after the race, Busch explained his reason for choosing the song he did, and that he really just wanted fans to accept him as the person he is.
Who is Kyle Busch? Who is Tony Stewart?
Driving skills, determination, attitude, and the love for racing make Stewart and Busch the same person. But this year, Stewart is a media darling, and Busch is a media goat.
It’s not that easy for people to accept someone for who they really are. The wiring just doesn’t allow it.
If it were that easy, then Dale Earnhardt Sr. would have won most popular driver before he died.
Mark Martin said afterward that he raced Busch clean because he knew Busch would have done the same for him. Does he know Kyle Busch?
If longevity is in Busch’s future, then statistically he will be smashing record books instead of guitars. Even with the record books at his feet, Busch will probably never be a most popular driver or win any award that has some kind of voting. I am sure he’s not bothered by that.
Busch is amazing, and for now, he is the reason everyone gets fired up.
But if someday he decides to take the same road Stewart has, will we see a different Kyle Busch? Is that what we really want? Can the fans accept a race car driver for the person he truly is?
Tune in to Atlanta to see what happens next.