Ranking NASCAR's 5 Biggest Villains
One of the wonderful things about NASCAR is that each driver is able to build a reputation that the fans can partake in. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins a race, fans will cheer because he has a positive reputation as a friendly and humble guy. By contrast, Kyle Busch's jeering attitude and cocky demeanor, together with his insane knack of wining in everything, make him a very hated guy.
We love our good guys in NASCAR, but it is the bad guys who get our attention more often than not. We love following the guys who don the proverbial (and in some cases literal) black hat.
Here are the bad guys that we love to hate in the NASCAR world.
5. Jimmie Johnson
One would expect that after six championships and 66 wins (including two Daytona 500s), fans would finally quit with all the hating and the jeering of the driver of the No. 48 and his crew and accept that this champion and humanitarian is greatness embodied.
Yet Jimmie Johnson continues to be one of the most hated men in the garage. Aside from the fact that his confidence just cannot be tipped, he holds a psychological advantage over his peers in that they know he can win at any moment, at any track. In other words, Johnson is hated because he is the best of his time.
It makes sense why people always root for the underdog in this case.
4. Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski is one tough customer. He's energetic yet brash, and he doesn't mind speaking his mind and being himself. That makes him a respected member of the NASCAR fraternity and an admired driver in the hearts of the millions of NASCAR fans.
However, if you ask Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin or Carl Edwards, it also makes him a very large pain in the keyster.
Keselowski isn't a driver who backs down from a fight or a little bit of controversy, and as a result, we've been subjected to some entertaining feuds. As a matter of fact, there hasn't been a dull Keselowski feud yet.
It is what makes him a NASCAR darling to some and a guy who warrants a whooping to the others. There is no middle ground when it comes to the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford.
3. Kyle Busch
Where do we begin?
Despite calming down over the past couple of seasons, Kyle Busch is still one of the most hated individuals in the NASCAR garage. Rightfully so, in many cases. There was the whole bullying thing, the whining thing and the jerk attitude, and when it comes to fights, a guy who runs from them only seems to fuel the fires of dislike.
Of course, it's easy to dislike a guy who has a seemingly supernatural talent when it comes to driving a race car. He can wheel a car like nobody's business, yet somehow that doesn't stop fans from losing their minds with joy when some misfortune befalls Busch's No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
2. Austin Dillon
Very rarely do we see a driver booed so loudly at the beginning of his Sprint Cup career like we do with Austin Dillon. Although he's been loudly cheered due to his piloting the iconic No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevy, there is a very large group that has already taken to booing Dillon.
There is a lot of speculation as to why the fan response to Dillon has been so negative. Several feel that NASCAR has taken to pushing him as the next big thing when he has done so little to prove himself (four wins and a truck championship is one thing, but two wins in the Nationwide Series, neither of which came in his 2013 championship season, is another thing entirely).
However, it is also speculated that the kid has inherited a legacy that is the antithesis of his upbringing. The last person to drive the No. 3 for Childress in the Sprint Cup Series, Dale Earnhardt, was a common man who rose from nothing to be one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. He embodied the blue collar fans who weren't strangers to working with calloused hands and putting in long hours at the shop or the mill.
Meanwhile, Dillon is seen as a rich kid who tries too hard to be a cowboy. Several fans, and even a few even a few drivers, he was handed his ride in NASCAR. He is the grandson of one of the most prolific car owners in NASCAR history, Richard Childress, so his success has been noted as a little too conspicuous.
Then there is the story of the annoying hat. Not much can be said there, except the hat has gotten pretty annoying.
1. Brian France
NASCAR's CEO and chairman, Brian France, isn't exactly one of the most well-liked guys in the NASCAR world. But, of course, that might be something of a given for people in a position of power in a major sport. Fans just automatically don't take too kindly to you.
That's not to say that France hasn't pulled off a few good tricks in his position. After taking his position within his grandfather's brainchild, he negotiated the title sponsorship deal with Sprint/NEXTEL following the departure of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 2003.
Another brief yet bright point is that after the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001, France helped to launch several safety measures within the sport, including the Car of Tomorrow (although that only lasted from 2007 to 2010).
Even so, many still view him in a negative light because he holds the role of politician in a major sporting organization. Whereas many speculate that the sport should focus more on racing, France's role requires him to make sure NASCAR can operate within a successful business model, which means changing a few things in order to make it more appealing to the fans and help the sport grow.
This has caused rumbles of dissent in the NASCAR community, as many feel that things like the points system have been changed more times than necessary.
When you're the man in charge, you're bound to have few admirers and some dissenters as well.