NASCAR: What is Behind Kyle Busch's Domination?

Wil Stillwell-EdlerCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2008

Even if you are a casual fan of NASCAR, you've probably noticed that this year, some kid named Kyle Busch has been downright dominating in the first half of this year's Sprint Cup season.

He has six wins, 11 Top Fives, 12 Top 10's, three poles, and an average finish of 9.9. 

Not to mention, he's leading the Sprint Cup Series by a whopping 182 points over second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.  It's an even better showing than the domination Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon had last year in the first half.

That's saying something, especially considering they won a total of 16 races between them. It's unbelievable for a guy who had only won four races prior to this year.

If you remember, he was with the team giant of Hendrick Motorsports last year, the team who won a record 18 of the 36 races in the year.

That begs the question, what are the reasons for his dominance? 

Is it the guidance of his new teammates Tony Stewart, and to a lesser extent Denny Hamlin? 

Is it the power under the hood of the dominant Toyotas?

Or perhaps it's the ability of his Crew Chief Steve Addington to decipher his sometimes childish whining over the radio into what he needs to make his car better?

You could say that the always unpredictable Tony Stewart would be responsible for perhaps containing the also unpredictable "Rowdy" Busch, or perhaps teaching him how to let out his inner monster occasionally and mix in a show of maturity to go along with it, but let's not kid around.

While no one will doubt the talent of Tony Stewart, or that he can be a good guy at times too (the man has an impeccable record of kindness and generosity, you just have to dig harder to find it), to suggest that he groomed Kyle, or showed him how to be more of himself, is a joke.

Could it be the power of the surprising Toyotas?  Drivers around the garage have said since Toyota started in 2007, that they have had a significant power advantage over the other models.

How this makes sense is beyond me. Why would NASCAR let one model have more power than the other three, when the whole reason behind introducing the CoT was to improve competition?

Perhaps the ultra-talented Kyle Busch is just taking advantage of what he didn't have at Hendrick Motorsports. Therein lies the paradox, what doesn't Hendrick Motorsports have?

It won 18 races not even a year ago; all anyone could say was that Hendrick was miles ahead of anyone, which was why they won so many races.

Then why did Kyle Busch, who everyone has always said was full of talent, the way he can drive a loose race car that would have anyone else spinning as soon as they turned the wheel?

You could perhaps say that Hendrick fell victim to the old "Competition breeds innovation" and simply didn't continue to research and develop the CoT in the off-season as much as Gibbs, Rousch and the other teams.

Yet, they have been competitive all year long; they just haven't had the luck to go along with their success (Jeff Gordon being spun at Las Vegas and Daytona come to mind as examples).

So does that mean that Crew Chief Steve Addington is the whole reason behind "Rowdy" Busch's domination this year in Sprint Cup?  I say yes.  But how?

The man had never been atop the pit box during a Cup race.  His experience all came in the Nationwide Series with unimpressive drivers Mike Bliss and Jason Keller.  But the relationship with a driver and his crew chief is the key to anyone's success.  This is the perfect example.

Alan Gustafson is one of the better Crew Chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage, and has been atop a pit box since 2005.  But Kyle Busch isn't going to radio in "My car's loose, I think I need a few rounds of wedge to tighten her up."  You'll more likely hear "My car's junk."

Who in their right mind, would have any feasible idea of what to do to a car with that information?  Well, the answer would be in the results Kyle keeps showing us. 

Steve Addington may not be the best crew chief around, he might not even be a "top tier" crew chief, but what he is best at is understanding what Kyle Busch needs to make his car faster than anyone else.  And that is all that matters.

 People may flock to the guy who can calculate fuel mileage better than the next guy, but if he doesn't know what do to when his driver complains over the radio, he will never been in a position to calculate how many laps short his driver will or won't be at the end of the race.

With technology is at the forefront of any conversation, having chemistry between Crew Chief and driver is often overlooked as an important part of a successful race team.

Before this year is over, that won't be the case any longer.  Kyle Busch and Steve Addington are proving that just because you aren't a master with a calculator, doesn't mean that you won't win any races.