NASCAR Got This One Right

Behind the wheel, Kyle Busch is perhaps the most talented driver in NASCAR today. There’s no questioning that. But for years now, Busch’s biggest obstacle between himself and real superstardom is his remarkable penchant for childish behavior whenever things don’t go his way.

Case in point was Friday night. There was nothing dirty or overtly wrong with what went down initially between Busch and Ron Hornaday. The two were side-by-side when they came up alongside a slower truck. When the two of them went to the outside, Hornaday’s truck got loose and got up into Busch, causing both to slide up into the fence. Unfortunate? Yes. Dirty? In no way.

But what Busch did in response was a microcosm of why he will never be able to ascend to the position of true ambassador for the sport like Carl Edwards or other guys like that. The way he drove into the corner behind Hornaday -under caution, mind you- and drove Hornaday head-on into the outside wall was not only childish and immature, it was unbelievably dangerous, and absolutely warranted the suspension that NASCAR handed down Saturday morning.

Busch was clearly thinking of no one but himself. He ruined Hornaday’s chances at contending for the Truck Series title. He put his sponsors and owner Joe Gibbs in a bind, as they now, once again, have to answer for Busch’s childish behavior. All of that thinking was plenty of ammo for NASCAR to sit him for the rest of the weekend, a decision which I applaud wholeheartedly.

The question now is what happens going forward. Team owner Gibbs and Mars Inc., who sponsors the 18 car, made it clear last year they weren’t going to accept any more bad publicity from their driver. I wouldn’t be shocked if Mars put pressure on Gibbs to yank Busch from the car for the final two races as well, a decision that I think may do the immature driver a world of good.

Busch has talent coming out of his ears, but simply has been unable to overcome his inability to cope when things don’t go his way. There’s a difference between being driven and being petulant, and Busch has yet to find that happy medium. He’s been full-time in the Sprint Cup Series since 2005, and one might think that if he were going to mature, it would have happened by now.

Whether or not this will be the tipping point for him to finally grow up and begin acting like an adult remains to be seen. But NASCAR did the right thing in sitting Busch this weekend and letting the gravity of what he did sink in.

I’m all for hating to lose, but what Busch did Friday night was borderline criminal. Kudos to NASCAR for seeing that and being able to draw the line.

They say that the worst feeling in NASCAR is seeing someone else drive your car. I say that this may be exactly what Busch needs to convince him that if he ever wants to be a champion and a true star in the Cup series, the time is now for him to grow up and learn to keep his emotions in check.


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