Last weekend during the middle of the race at Darlington, Kyle Busch did a very Kyle Busch-like thing, parking his car at the garage entrance on pit road, exiting it, and walking to his hauler, making his vehicle the responsibility of NASCAR officials. The move caused an uproar, with some suggesting the two-time Cup Series champion should receive a penalty.
He hasn’t received any sanction from the governing body as of yet. However, he has been judged in the court of public opinion. And one juror, who is a longtime NASCAR Cup Series owner, stood up this week and didn’t sugarcoat what he had to say about Busch’s move.
Kyle Busch has not been a fan of Darlington lately
Kyle Busch and Darlington are on rocky terms as of late. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who won there in 2008, has suffered two of his worst career finishes on the 1.36-mile track in the last two years, and his postrace behavior both times has drawn even more attention to those disastrous performances.
Last year, near the end of Stage 2, Busch made hard contact with the outside wall after Austin Dillon got into the left rear of the No. 18 Toyota. With his race over, Busch aggressively drove down pit road, and made a quick left turn into the garage, running over a barricade of cones and sending numerous track personnel scrambling for safety. NASCAR handed him a $50,000 fine for the incident.
Last week, oddly enough, late in Stage 2, Busch’s day came to an end when Brad Keselowski crashed hard into the fence and the JGR car had nowhere to go and got collected in the wreck. The 37-year-old, once again drove down pit road, except this time at the entrance, he stopped, exited the vehicle, and walked to his hauler.
His abandoned car delayed the restart of the race for multiple laps as NASCAR officials had to scramble and clear it before resuming action.
Veteran Cup Series owner calls out Busch’s behavior
Busch, and more notably his antics, are a lightning rod for controversy. He is the villain and readily embraces the role. While his diehard supporters love the attitude and accompanying behavior, it rubs many the wrong way.
On the Door Bumper Clear podcast this week, the crew and their guest, longtime NASCAR Cup Series owner Tommy Baldwin, discussed Busch’s move and offered their thoughts. Baldwin, who was the Daytona 500-winning crew chief for Ward Burton in 2002, cut to the chase.
“Well, I’ve said it before on my social media, and I’ll say it again. Kyle Busch is a little b****. Plain and simple. He is,” Baldwin said. “If it wasn’t for his talent, there would be no sponsor and no owner that would let him drive a race car. I think he’s just so far off base on what he does and how he does it. All he did yesterday was disrupt the race. He could have turned into that garage, without a problem.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. offers different take
Brett Griffin, who spots for Justin Haley, and is one of the DBC co-hosts, agreed with Baldwin.
“They should take a NASCAR official and put him in that car, and if that car will crank and that car is able to drive through that gate into the garage then he should be fined 100 points,” Griffin said. “He ruined the entire part of the race as far as what we were doing for pitting, he ruined the commercial strategy, he changed everything because he was being exactly what Tommy just called him.”
Interestingly, Griffin’s boss at Dirty Mo Media, Dale Earnhardt Jr., had a different take on what happened.
“We don’t know really how badly damaged Kyle’s car was,” Earnhardt said on the Dale Jr. Download. “Maybe he knew that he was not going to be able to make the turn in the garage without doing a seven-point turn. So he decided just to leave it right there and get out. I feel like big freakin’ deal. He parked his car on pit road and got out.”
Earnhardt also acknowledged regardless of whether or not the car could go any further, it was not a good look for Busch and fell right in line with his past behavior, which the NASCAR Hall of Famer admitted he now anticipates instead of being surprised when it happens.
“I don’t think it’s crazier than anything else he’s ever done,” Earnhardt said. “This is kind of the norm. I’m kind of used to. This doesn’t affect me. This doesn’t bother me. You’ve come to expect it.”
Busch’s future at Joe Gibbs Racing still appears to be cloudy. As Earnhardt also suggested on his podcast, the driver’s annoyed attitude and corresponding behavior could be a sign that things aren’t going well. Or, it could just be Kyle Busch being Kyle Busch. Only he knows.