As the first part of my sure-to-be-best-seller, A Beginner's Guide to Hating Kyle Busch, I offer up this introduction as a teaser for those already familiar with him as well as for those who might be new to NASCAR and know of him only by reputation.
The impetus for this began a little over a year ago when someone asked the following on a "question-and-answer" Web site: "Why do people hate Kyle Busch?"
Before going on you may be asking, "Why should anyone listen to a Kyle Busch 'apologist' when it comes to listing reasons to hate NASCAR's most disliked driver?"
To which I would respond, "Maybe because as a Rowdy fan, I've heard them all, time and time again."
Back to the original question, I answered it as honestly as I could from the eyes of a Busch-basher, added a bit of "big picture" perspective, and in doing so my response was chosen as the "Best Answer."
The question was posed by someone claiming to be a newcomer to NASCAR who couldn't seem to understand the animosity toward the boy he heard about in the few chances he had been able to catch a race.
Results of investigations into whether or not the person posing the question was in fact a newcomer to NASCAR Nation or was just another Busch-basher wanting to live vicariously through other people's responses to the question have yet to be divulged to the general public.
This was by no means the first time this question was asked, nor was it to be the last.
I continued to follow that site and many others and have found that answers to this question are usually vehement, vitriolic, and sometimes downright vile—especially when such questions and responses come from fans of Junior Nation, although they are by no means alone in their disdain for the 23-year-old Las Vegas native.
Mind you, other drivers, including the mild-mannered Jeff Burton and the sometimes not-so-mild-mannered Carl Edwards, have said things about or done things to NASCAR's most popular driver during his Cup career and have had to deal with few to none of the ramifications that Kyle was about to face.
But then again, this was different.
The particular time the question was asked was a time of extreme emotions. Kyle had been involved just weeks before in the now-famous tangle with Dale Jr. at Richmond in the Spring of 2008.
In that race, Junior seemed well on his way to breaking his streak of not having won a race in two years until he and Busch got together near the end of the race resulting in Busch finishing second and Junior 16th.
One need only look back to this year's Martinsville Truck race, the Bristol Nationwide race, or any number of races last year for supposed "prime examples" of such behavior.
3. He often dominates races in the Cup Series and "stinks up the show" for the regulars there.
This speaks for itself.
4. He shows "no respect" for other drivers and races everyone the same—too hard.
Worse, he is totally unapologetic about it—even if it leads to less than optimal results for him, for the other driver, or both. That includes not only the sport's most popular driver but his own brother as well.
Richmond wasn't the "first tango" for Busch and Dale Jr. and who can ever forget the site of the two Busch Brothers spinning out and hitting the wall to the sound of overwhelming applause in the 2007 Sprint All-Star Challenge. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
5. His house was recently featured on Cribs and neither your house nor your favorite driver's house was.
Plus, he's got a hotter girlfriend than most of us will ever be able to get the time of day from. And he managed to get her even after his well-known gaffe at the 2006 Sprint Cup Awards Banquet where he forget his then-girlfriend's name and instead called her his brother's wife's name.
6. Even when he wins you never know if he's going to say something that makes fans and detractors alike cringe.
After winning the first race in the Car of Tomorrow (COT) ever, he was asked immediately after getting out of the new car what he thought about them. He answered emphatically and without pause, "I can't stand them...they suck!"
7. He seems to relish goading on the fans on while playing the role of the villain.
Brushing away fake tears while being booed, asking Busch-bashers to throw full beers instead of empties so he'd have something to drink, and even picking up an empty can thrown at him recently and pretending to drink it are just a few of the many ways he needles his detractors.
9. That bow of his after he wins a race as well as the bow he coaxed the whole team to take during introductions at the 2008 Sprint All-Star Challenge.
Although fans and apologists view this literally as his paying tribute to the fans who stayed to watch the whole race (like actors do after a performance), his detractors see it as nothing more than yet another twist of the blade in their collective side.
10. He gets an inordinate amount of attention from this press.
For the past year and half there have probably been more column inches written and more airtime spent talking about this "young punk" then NASCAR's most popular driver (Dale Jr.) and NASCAR's most successful driver this decade (Jimmie Johnson) combined.
11. He is Kurt Busch's brother.
Kurt didn't come into the sport and start making friends from the get-go, especially when it came to dealing with Mr. Excitement himself—Jimmy Spencer. By the time Kyle came along, the "Busch" name was already "mud" in many people's eyes and Kyle did little to nothing to change that view.
12. All of his fans are "bandwagoners" who only like him because he's winning lately.
Before his move to Joe Gibbs Racing, there were absolutely no Kyle Busch fans. The boy didn't even rate his own merchandise trailer at most tracks. Sure, he was winning in all three series while driving for HMS (and Ballew).
He even somehow managed to finish 10th in Cup points in 2006 and follow that with a fifth place finish in 2007.
And along the way, he continued to set records left and right for "youngest driver to" or "only driver to" do this or that. But nobody actually liked the guy and those that claim they do now will drop him like a bad habit once his winning ways subside.
13. He drives a "ferrin'" car and often uses it to beat "'murrican" cars, and is somehow cheating in the process.
Again, before his move to JGR the boy had only won four Cup races and a handful of races in the other series. And that members of the JGR Nationwide teams were caught trying to cheat a post-race dyno test only proves that he must be cheating in all three series.
Never mind that he racked up wins and top-fives in that same year driving for Billy Balew, Braun Racing, D'Hondt, and JGR. More saliently, the day the cheating was attempted, he wasn't even in the race or on the track. He had spent much of the day in NASCAR's control booth.
14. His mother is just as outspoken as he is.
In an interview talking about her boys while expecting to be booed along with them mercilessly during introductions before the race Mother's Day, 2007, Gaye Busch said "I've always told my Kurt and Kyle to keep their chins up and let it roll off their shoulders, get used to it. Sorry my boys weren't born in the South and sorry they win."
15. The media hate him because he can be curt, surly, condescending, arrogant, and dismissive.
In short, he doesn't suffer fools gladly and makes his scorn obvious. Worse, he can be downright hard to catch and keep up with when he's bolting from the track after a bad day—especially for most out-of-shape journalists
16. He just beat your favorite driver...again.
17. He just wrecked your favorite driver...again.
18. His picture is in the NASCAR dictionary under "checkers or wreckers."
Add just one more of his qualities to this list and nearly every one of these turns from a reason for his detractors to hate him to a reason for his fans to love him:
19. He doesn't seem to care what you, I, or anybody else thinks about him, either on or off the track. He loves racing and he loves winning. Anything less is unacceptable and everything else is just noise.
As I've said many times in many place, this "Rowdy" fan has watched him and his brother come up as the so-called "hometown heroes" from where I saw my first live race in 2003 (I never got to see him race trucks for Roush back in 2001).
But from his early days at Hendrick Motor Sports to his current success with Joe Gibbs Racing, I have followed the boy and watched him carefully. And what I, as his "No. 1 Fan" have found is:
"Rowdy" may not always win, he may not always say or do "the right thing," and he will most likely never be voted "Most Popular Driver," but he has never let me down.
That's my $0.18. What's yours?
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