In every story there’s the protagonist and the antagonist. No matter what side of the coin you’re on, there’s always one guy you love to cheer for and one guy that the hate boils over in the pit of your stomach when you just think about the possibility of them winning. That guy for NASCAR is their resident villain and heel Kyle Busch.
Now let me preface this by saying I’m a Jimmie Johnson guy. I came into the sport a Jeff Gordon fan, latched on to Jimmie immediately as he learned under the tutelage of Gordon and cheered for both men. Busch would land pretty high among my favorites behind the likes of Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, but I’m not a Rowdy super fan or a Busch hater either, so I’m the perfect guy to tell the story and write this piece.
Busch emerged early on as a brash kid from Vegas that knew how to drive a race car and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the elite of the sport. Even as he garnered experience through the Xfinity series and during his brief time with Hendrick Motorsports driving the No. 5, Busch was a special talent. You don’t need me to tell you that as he’s now twice capped off a triple-sweep in his career doing so on Saturday night at Bristol after he won both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series race’s this week.
It wasn’t just that he was a Cup Series driver among a bunch of younger drivers, it was a true racing clinic both nights as he had to work from the rear of the lead lap cars after issues on pit road. Busch carved up the competition weaving through traffic and finding the right line in order to secure a position in victory lane. It was great racing by Busch, the kind the fans in attendance pay to see and viewers tune in for.
Busch had a dominant car on Saturday night as well and made the most of it securing his 40th career Monster Energy Cup Series win. The 18 was able to find speed working the high line, battle off several Joe Gibbs Racing teammates and really get the most out of his ride while showcasing his elite driving ability in route to the Bristol sweep. The rookie Erik Jones and veteran Matt Kenseth were no match for Rowdy.
After the win, Busch hopped on his ride and immediately was greeted with a chorus of boos as well as many of Rowdy Nation cheering on their victorious driver. When asked about the boos, Busch replied “I don’t care, make the noise.” The heel Busch also put on a show making hand gestures to the crowd signaling he can’t hear the haters, and also fully embraced the show-off persona with a mock cry-baby gesture. Classic WWE style moves right out of the heel handbook.
As if that wasn’t enough, Busch broke out the broom and proceeded to sweep off the roof of his Toyota Camry putting an exclamation mark on another victory for the wheel-man of the No. 18. Another truly dominant weekend from Busch, and the 2015 Cup Series champion is really starting to build momentum just before The Chase and will no doubt be one of the top contenders for the title this season.
NASCAR needs more guys like Kyle Busch. Guys who not only have an elite racing ability, but are genuinely emotional after each race. Whether he’s hunting down Joey Logano to slug him in the face after a wreck or an incident, pissed off after a poor result and takes it out on the media, or brash and cocky after a win, it is all excellent for the sport and ratings.
Kyle Busch is a draw. Whether you’re coming to see him dominate and win or coming to root against him and waiting for an opportunity to watch the win slip away, you’re coming to see Kyle Busch. With pillars of the sport like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and now Dale Earnhardt Jr. stepping away, it is crucial NASCAR retains its fans and further grows their reach. Enter Kyle Busch, the arrogant former champion that wins in any series he wants to run in and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do to stop him. He’s the guy you love to hate, and he loves every second of it.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter @FrankBostonTank