Monday, March 30, 2009

Why Does NASCAR Have it in for Kyle Busch?

In NASCAR, it's who you are that apparently determines how you will be treated. If you're a Rick Hendrick racing driver, you can get away with punting the opponents, speeding down pit road, and various other infractions. If you're a talented, intelligent driver who threatens the status quo--then look out. We saw for a few years how Tony Stewart was treated by NASCAR, particularly when he spoke up for himself or spoke out about the (lack of) quality of Goodyear tires. For the past couple of years, Kyle Busch has become the victim of NASCAR's tactics. Witness last weekend's race at Bristol where a tire got away from one of Busch's crewmembers. The NASCAR official who was 'Johnny on the spot' there could have stopped the tire from crossing outside of the pit. We've seen NASCAR officials stop tires for the 24 and 48 teams in the past and no infractions were given. But, since this was Kyle Busch, instead, a penalty was called which effectively took Kyle out of the running to win the race.

In today's rain-delayed Truck Series race at Martinsville, under caution with only a few laps to go, Kyle made a move to skim his truck's back fender along the pit wall in order to try and keep the fender from rubbing the tire. Outside of the fact that this was an extremely smart move, the Truck Commentators, particulary Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip, immediately pointed out to the viewers--and the NASCAR folks monitoring the broadcast--that Kyle had crossed the commit line to pit road, despite the fact that there was no intention on pitting. After mentioning this three more times, NASCAR penalized Busch for this 'infraction.' It's hardly the first time we have seen the announcers affect the outcome of a race and point out infractions to the NASCAR officials--it's just quite interesting that they only do this in particular instances. One can be quite sure they see many other infractions take place--they're just selective as to who they talk about.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of concern about Kyle Busch because he is quite probably the most talented racer we have seen on a track in a long time. And, Kyle is a racer, not just a driver or sheet-metal jockey. Kyle has 'made his bones' as a determined, competitive, smart and fast-thinking racer and a lot of people just can't stand the fact that he is so talented. Kyle dislikes being compared to other superstars of the sport, but he has easily proven himself to be the closest thing to a Dale Earnhardt, Sr., since Dale's tragic death. For those of us who like to see a racer actually race, instead of 'driving around in circles,' Kyle is a refreshing change to the style of the current batch of drivers and jockeys.

NASCAR should pay heed to this and stop trying to penalize Busch everytime he turns around. The current blend of vanilla bland drivers is certainly not keeping fans interested in the sport. Whatever is left of 'Junior Nation' is not showing itself in a sea of green. Hendrick Motorsports has only proven that money can buy championships and races--and the nauseating promotion of Rick Hendrick by FOX and Speed 'analysts' over the past couple of years only shows that they really don't believe that the real fans are familiar with Hendrick's felony bribery conviction during the Honda scandals of the early 1990's. Some of us don't put criminals and felons up on a pedestal--and NA$CAR seems to have conveniently forgotten that fact--or maybe they've just been paid to overlook it.