NASCAR: Kyle Busch and the 10 Biggest Villains in NASCAR History

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2011

NASCAR: Kyle Busch and the 10 Biggest Villains in NASCAR History

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    After his recent run-in with owner Richard Childress following a truck race, Kyle Busch has cemented himself as the biggest NASCAR villain of his era.

    Busch has regularly gotten into scuffles both on and off the track since joining NASCAR’s top series in 2005.

    His cavalier attitude toward his competition certainly hasn’t endeared him to fans, as he is the most booed driver at practically every track.

    While Busch may be the lead villain, there are plenty of drivers in the supporting cast who draw the ire of fans and fellow drivers alike.

    Due to the volatility of a sport like auto racing, heated disagreements occur on an almost weekly basis. Because of this, nearly every driver can be considered a villain at one point or another.

    This list isn’t for drivers who have gotten into one or two pushing and shoving matches, though.

    No, this list is all about the drivers who are repeat offenders. Although some of these drivers are more hated than others, they all have a rap sheet a mile long.

    Here are the 10 biggest villains in NASCAR history.

10. Brad Keselowski

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    Having been in the Sprint Cup Series for parts of just four seasons, one might think that Brad Keselowski would be a pretty unassuming driver. Due to his aggressive-style, however, Keselowski has become a bit of a target among other drivers.

    In 2009, Keselowski got into a number of arguments with Denny Hamlin for wrecking him in Nationwide Series races.

    Keselowski’s reputation as an aggressive driver stems mainly from his rivalry with Carl Edwards, which started at the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega in 2009, though.

    On the final lap, with Edwards leading, Keselowski nicked the back of Edwards’ car, sending him into Ryan Newman and into the fence above the wall.

    Although Keselowski didn’t purposely wreck Edwards, the crash looked so brutal that fans considered Keselowski a dirty driver. This was, of course, buoyed by the popularity of Edwards.

    Edwards got his revenge on Keselowski the next season, however. With Keselowski running sixth and Edwards 153 laps down at Atlanta, Edwards intentionally got into Keselowski, sending his car flying through the air.

    The crash was eerily similar to the one between the two the previous season, only with Keselowski on the receiving end.

9. Juan Pablo Montoya

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    Juan Pablo Montoya may not be as demonstrative of a person as many of the drivers on this list, but there are a number of factors that make Montoya a villain.

    First and foremost, as a native of Colombia, Montoya is an enemy of sorts to NASCAR purists who strongly believe in the sport’s Southern roots. Also, Montoya’s aggressive driving style has made him a target among some of his competitors.

    Among the drivers Montoya has had run-ins with are Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Mark Martin. Montoya drew the ire of many NASCAR fans when he got into a confrontation with Martin following a race in Chicago last season.

    After the race, Montoya told Martin, one of the sport’s most respected drivers, that he needed to take “smart driving lessons.”

    Montoya’s biggest rival, however, has been Ryan Newman. Their feud started in Montoya’s first race in 2006 when Newman wrecked Montoya after Montoya had clipped Newman earlier in the race.

    Things have heated back up this season between the two of them, starting with a crash and retaliation at Richmond. There are also rumors that Newman struck Montoya during a meeting with NASCAR officials.

    If Montoya’s hard-racing ways continue, this certainly won’t be his last battle.

8. Kurt Busch

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    Kurt Busch may not be as reviled in NASCAR circles as his little brother Kyle, but he is certainly no stranger to confrontation. Busch has gotten into it with a number of other drivers on this list, including Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmy Spencer and Kevin Harvick.

    Perhaps Busch’s most famous instance of misconduct came near the end of the 2005 season when he was cited for drunken and reckless driving in Phoenix. Busch was then suspended for the final two races of the season by Roush Racing due to his conduct.

    Because of his on and off-track shenanigans, Busch was voted the third most hated athlete by GQ Magazine in 2006. While Busch has certainly begun to mellow in recent years, his temper is still evident on occasion.

    Busch’s favorite outlet to vent has become over his team radio, where he blasted Penske technical director Tom German for giving him a bad car during a Richmond race earlier this season.

7. Kevin Harvick

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    Nicknamed “Happy” as a joke due to his occasional outbursts on the track, Kevin Harvick is a bit of a ticking time bomb. While Harvick doesn’t get into altercations on regular basis, he makes them count when he does.

    One of Harvick’s more noteworthy tussles came in 2008 following a Nationwide Series race. After the race at Talladega, Harvick told the media that Carl Edwards was a pansy after he caused a 12-car wreck in which Harvick was involved.

    When Edwards tried to talk to Harvick in the garage a bit later, Harvick got physical with Edwards, pushing him onto his car, and damaging the hood in the process.

    Harvick is currently engaged in a massive feud with Kyle Busch due to Busch wrecking Harvick in a race at Darlington earlier in the season. Following the race, Harvick got out of his car and attempted to punch Busch.

    Since Busch was still in his car, he drove off as Harvick attacked him, pushing Harvick’s car into the wall in the process. Each driver was placed on four weeks probation, and while Busch is ready to move on, Harvick has vowed revenge.

6. Tony Stewart

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    Being one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers, it might be difficult to view Tony Stewart as a villain, but Stewart has gotten into more dustups on track than any driver in recent memory.

    Having been on the Sprint Cup circuit for over a decade to this point, Stewart seems to have matured. That doesn’t erase his checkered past, however.

    Stewart’s main rival in his first years in NASCAR was Jeff Gordon. Stewart absolutely blasted Gordon in the media following a crash at Watkins Glen 2000.

    The feud spilled over into the next year as well when Stewart spun Gordon out on pit road after a Bristol race in which Stewart felt Gordon raced him too aggressively.

    Stewart has also gotten physical with the media in the past. In 2001, Stewart knocked a tape recorder out of the hand of a reporter, and in 2002 he roughed up a photographer.

    While he has been relatively quiet in terms of significant scuffles since his early years, Stewart recently reminded everyone why he was once NASCAR’s biggest bad boy.

    In January, while competing in dirt track racing in Australia during NASCAR’s offseason, Stewart got into a fight with the track’s co-owner. Stewart reportedly struck the co-owner, Brett Morris, with his helmet.

    The argument stemmed from Stewart believing track officials weren’t taking necessary safety precautions.

5. Jeremy Mayfield

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    Although Jeremy Mayfield was never particularly hated for his on-track antics, it is his actions off the track that land him on this list.

    Mayfield had always been considered a solid driver, having won five races over the course of his career and making “The Chase” in each of its first two seasons.

    Public perception of Mayfield changed in 2009, however, when he tested positive for the use of methamphetamine. Mayfield was subsequently suspended indefinitely by NASCAR.

    Mayfield maintains that the test was actually a false positive caused by a mixture of over-the-counter medicine. After being granted an injunction by a judge, Mayfield did the unthinkable by testing positive again just six days later.

    Despite the overwhelming odds against Mayfield’s case, he refuses to admit to using methamphetamine to this day.

    His most recent appeal attempt was dismissed by a judge because, by signing a contract with NASCAR, Mayfield has no legal right to take legal action against them. His ban still stands in 2011.

4. Jimmy Spencer

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    Nicknamed “Mr. Excitement” for his aggressive driving style, Jimmy Spencer got into his fair share of altercations over the course of his career.

    While on-track disagreements are commonplace in NASCAR, few drivers take it to the extreme that Spencer did.

    The best example of Spencer’s over-the-top antics came after the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan in 2003.

    After many incidents between him and Kurt Busch, including a race the year before in which Busch bumped Spencer out of the lead late in the race, Spencer attacked Busch.

    While Busch was still in his car, Spencer punched him in the face. Spencer was immediately arrested and forced to spend 15 days in jail at the conclusion of the season.

    Spencer was again arrested in 2004 due to obstructing police in their attempt to arrest his son for vandalism.

    Spencer now works as an analyst for SPEED TV, which is surely a welcome sight for his former competitors.

3. Robby Gordon

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    Perhaps no driver in the recent history of NASCAR has been docked more driver points than Robby Gordon.

    He has made a habit of not only racing cars that fail post-race inspection, but he has also been involved in some outrageous incidents on the track.

    Gordon’s signature villainous moment came during a Nationwide Series race in Montreal in 2007. Fellow racer Marcos Ambrose spun out Gordon under a yellow flag to claim the lead.

    After the incident, Gordon was asked to move back to the 13th position. Feeling that NASCAR was wrong, Gordon refused to move back in the field. Gordon then reciprocated by spinning Ambrose out once the race resumed.

    Gordon remained on the track despite being officially removed from the race. To put the exclamation point on his actions, he actually celebrated as if he had won the race by doing burnouts alongside the actual winner, Kevin Harvick.

    Problems continued for Gordon as he was placed on probation by NASCAR in March for getting into a fight with another driver, Kevin Conway.

    The two drivers currently have lawsuits against each other stemming from payments Gordon failed to make to Conway while Conway was driving for Robby Gordon Motorsports in 2010.

2. Kyle Busch

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    While Kyle Busch is undoubtedly the premier villain in NASCAR today, he just misses out on the top spot on this list.

    Due to his cocky attitude and hard-driving style, it may be easier to name the drivers who Busch hasn’t had disagreements with than the ones he has.

    Since mentioning all of his incidents would take much too long, it’s best to focus on his most recent feud with Richard Childress Racing. As previously mentioned, Busch and Kevin Harvick got into an on-track argument earlier this season following a race at Darlington.

    This incident presumably was the beginning of a rivalry with the entire Richard Childress Racing team that culminated with a physical altercation between Busch and Childress after a truck race at Kansas.

    Following the race, Busch bumped Childress driver Joey Coulter, who Busch felt raced him too hard during the final lap. This was apparently the tip of the iceberg for Childress as he put Busch in a headlock and threw punches.

    To Busch’s credit, he refrained from striking Childress back, perhaps showing the maturity that he has lacked in the past.

    Like his brother Kurt, Kyle was involved in a traffic-related incident recently as well. He was cited for driving 128 mph in a 45-mph zone in North Carolina in May.

    It’s because of those types of actions that Busch continues to be hated by so many fans, regardless of how many times he visits Victory Lane.

1. Darrell Waltrip

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    When you think of Darrell Waltrip today, it’s difficult not to think of the fun-loving NASCAR on FOX announcer and his signature catchphrase, “boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing, boys.”

    Waltrip is also extremely well-respected by current drivers for his knowledge and input regarding the sport. Waltrip wasn’t always regarded so well by his peers and the fans, however.

    Waltrip was considered cocky and outspoken when he joined the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1972, earning the moniker “Jaws.”

    Waltrip often expressed his desire and ability to beat established NASCAR veterans through the media, which certainly didn’t sit too well with his peers.

    Much like Kyle Busch, there wasn’t much middle ground with Waltrip, as most fans either loved him or hated him.

    The biggest rivalry of Waltrip’s career was with Dale Earnhardt Sr. It has been said that both drivers resented each other because of their standing in the sport. Due to Earnhardt’s huge following, fans despised Waltrip for this.

    Waltrip would become one of the greatest drivers in the history of NASCAR over the course of his career, though, eventually earning him the respect of fans and fellow drivers alike. It remains to be seen whether Kyle Busch can do the same.