Hating Kyle Busch? Get Over It
On second thought, don't. Go ahead and hate him—it will only make him faster.
Kyle Busch has stepped out of the shadows of the Jeff and Jimmie show and has proven to everyone, Rick Hendrick in particular, that he is the real deal.
He's fast—no, scary fast. He's cocky, but he can and does back up every word that comes out of his mouth and signal from his hand on the track. He loves to be hated, and right now he's soaking it up.
With Tony in his usual early-to-mid season slump, Kyle is in the spotlight at Joe Gibbs Racing, and fans can't seem to stomach this young, arrogant, Prada sunglasses-wearing kid doing the donuts week in, week out.
You can't go to a racetrack or walk into a bar showing the race without hearing about how much Kyle Busch sucks. "It's his team," "It's Toyota," "It's a conspiracy by NASCAR to get rid of all the redneck fans," blah, blah, blah.
Come on folks—say what you want about Busch, about his whiney voice, his mismatched ears, or the fact that he just looks like a dork, but don't diss the man's skills. When is the last time NASCAR has seen this type of all-out beating in all three series by one guy?
Jeff Gordon won 13 races in 1998, a number that hasn't been challenged since. Jimmie Johnson has been the dominant driver in Cup the last two seasons, winning ten races in 2007.
None of that compares to the show Kyle Busch has put on this season.
He has multiple wins in all three series, with different teams and crew chiefs—two different teams in the Nationwide series alone, both of which he's won with. Kyle Busch has jumped from car to car to truck to car, and hasn't missed a beat anywhere along the way.
Many in the press have compared Kyle's tactics to the likes of Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, and even Dale Earnhardt. Junior Nation in particular has seemed to take much offense to the comparison to Big E, citing that Kyle doesn't have the talent or respect from competitors that Dale Sr. had.
These fans are comparing apples to oranges. Respect is something that has to be earned, so there's no way you can compare an early 20s Kyle Busch to a late 40s Dale Earnhardt (or Rusty, or Darrell).
Driving style, however, at any point in any two drivers' careers, can be compared. I'm not a statistician, nor do I have the 2008 Preview and Press Guide sitting at my desk, so I'm not going to spew out a bunch of numbers, but there is a definite similarity between the way Kyle Busch wheels the car and how the late Dale Earnhardt did so.
Words that come to mind when I think of both drivers are dominant, intimidating, aggressive. Kyle Busch has that "take-no-prisoners" mentality, and if you rattle his cage in the slightest, he will rattle your cage right into the outside wall, just like Dale Earnhardt.
Kyle may not have the intimidating presence off the track that Dale Sr. exhibited, but I can guarantee you every driver on the track thinks twice before racing him any harder than he needs to be raced at the time.
While Busch will never have the vast number of fans, record merchandise sales, or legacy of Dale Earnhardt, as far as their styles behind the wheel, they are one and the same.
As far as lack of talent goes...just watch the kid drive.
With the racing season only approaching the halfway point, it's still anyone's championship to win, and it's tough to say whether Kyle Busch will continue the dominance we've seen thus far. NASCAR is a momentum-driven sport, and it's possible he and his team have peaked too early.
Whatever the outcome, the string of success Kyle Busch has put together with all of his teams in the first half of 2008 is definitely one for the books. With his raw talent, rough driving, and cocky attitude, Kyle Busch has firmly established himself as the most hated man in NASCAR for many years to come.
So go ahead—throw the beer cans, coolers, and toilet paper, but don't tell him who's number one...he already knows.
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