Why I "Twit" Hating NASCAR's Kyle Busch and Scott Speed

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Why I
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What makes you like your favorite NASCAR driver?

 

The way he drives his car? The way he holds his line? His bump-drafting? Off-the-track attitude?

 

What makes you dislike others?

 

The way he drives his car? The way he holds his line? His bump-drafting? Off-the-track attitude?

 

When I first got into NASCAR, I was told to pick a driver. I watched a few races, did some research on their off-the-track lives, and picked Dale Earnhardt Jr.


I hissed and booed at the ones I didn't like. Kyle Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya took the brunt of my discontent, mainly because their attitudes were just downright bad.

 

But then came along an amazing invention called Twitter. This was a land of opportunity for fans to interact with their favorite athletes (or celebrities, actors, singers, etc.) and get a look into their lives.

 

At the end of 2009, I made a slideshow of my top 10 NASCAR personalities on Twitter. But there is much more to the story than that.

 

Twitter is changing my point of view on drivers I once hissed and booed at.

 

Take for example Scott Speed. The driver of the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota came over to NASCAR because he's an extreme guy, and Red Bull likes extreme guys and let's them do whatever they want.

 

At the track, I found he wasn't the nicest—or the most talented. He improved as the season went on, but I was almost hoping he would be replaced.

 

But in the offseason, something odd happened. He joined Twitter (@scottspeed) and let us into his personal world. At first I thought he was completely ridiculous, but then I realized he was laid back, a fun-loving husband, and funny. I even found myself searching for his tweets.

 

He officially hooked me one night when he wanted to play ping pong. He and fellow NASCAR driver Landon Cassill (@landoncassill) headed out to a sporting goods store and spent the night putting the table together in order to play. Did I mention Speed was decked out in 80s athletic gear, headband and all?

 

Then one day he posted of a picture of him and his best friend on a double date. Not a big deal, right? Well, when the best friend is Kyle Busch, it sort of is.

 

As a fan, we're all pretty in tune with who is friends with who, and assume drivers stick with their teams. We've heard the stories of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon's antics, and how Brad Keselowski lived on Junior's “compound” (but they called each other roommates).

 

But Speed and Busch?

 

I have always had a disdain for Busch, long before I ever got into NASCAR. Having gone to high school with the Busch brothers, I remember when Kyle would walk around school always wearing sunglasses and a jacket with patches that showed off how many races he had won.

 

Then it happened he decided to have a bad attitude on the track as well (surprise). It was easy for me to keep disliking him.

 

Thanks to Speed (well, the “thanks” part is still being debated), my attitude towards the younger Busch has changed. Speed has posted pictures of them bowling, having ice cream, going shopping, and relaxing in their motor homes.

But when Busch got engaged during Daytona Speedweeks and Twitterville was going crazy, I must say, I smiled. Speed was in on it, and Busch's fiancé tweeted about it. I even wrote an article about it, and I realized I had built a soft spot for Busch.

WHAT?!

After 10 years of disliking this person, a computer program that was originally intended to tell people what you were doing in 140 characters or less made me begin to like a person who once made me throw things at my television on race days.

Last night during the Budweiser Shootout, for the first time, I found myself not booing when his No. 18 M&Ms Toyota flashed on the screen. And I actually enjoyed his pre-race interview. Busch...Me...Enjoy. I never thought I would say those words in the same sentence.

It's also really great when the drivers respond to their fans @ mentions. At the track, you can run after a driver in the group to get an autograph and say “you're great!” and get the “thanks...” back, but they don't know the person who is saying it.

With the personalization of Twitter, you can converse and get to know your favorite driver personally. Maybe you can get invited to meet them at the next race you'll attend, or have them call in to your radio show.

But I think the best thing is that it's showing the real side of drivers. We don't have to wait for “exclusive” interviews or television specials to show what goes on in their lives. There's no editing or filtering.

Just the drivers telling is about their lives in their own words and pictures whenever they feel they want.

By the way, Kyle Busch is now on Twitter and can be followed at @KyleBusch.

 

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