Sunday, March 22, 2009

Being Ticked Off Proves Great Motivation For KyBusch -- Again

By Jerry Bonkowski
The Sports Xchange

There's one thing that has become a significant hallmark of Kyle Busch's young NASCAR career: When the 23-year-old Las Vegas native gets mad, it winds up being the best kind of motivation for him in his next race -- especially if it's the next day.

When a tire got loose in his pit during the final pit stop in Saturday's Nationwide Series race, causing him to be penalized for leaving the pit box too soon, Busch lost his chance to win a race that he had dominated to that point. He ultimately rallied to finish sixth, but that was little consolation.

In a not so classy end to the race, he abruptly parked his car in turn 3, stormed out of Bristol Motor Speedway and headed to his motor home. But just before he climbed out of his race car, according to ESPN he muttered over the team radio, "Y'all suck" and added, "Get my clothes from the hauler."

Given his angry outburst, you'd have to think that some of the same members who worked on his team on Saturday might have reservations working with him again during Sunday's Cup race.

But 24 hours after chastising his team, Busch was praising it after dominating -- leading 378 of 500 laps -- and ultimately winning the Food City 500 for the second time in three years.

"It's pretty awesome," Busch said, before adding one last dig: "We should've won here last fall and we should've won here yesterday. We've had so many great Nationwide cars here, too. We just keep messing up on pit road (Saturday)."

But all's well that ends well for Busch as he earned his second win in the last three races and his 14th Sprint Cup triumph overall.

"It's just an overall great day," Busch said. "The car handled well and we made some adjustments to it. Steve (Addington, crew chief) was good on pit road. The guys were great on pit road today."

It almost sounds a bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, doesn't it? One minute Busch is calling out his crew; the next minute he can't praise them enough.

But there's some method to that madness, as well. The crew members knew they screwed up Saturday and took Busch's criticism in stride. They made sure they worked harder -- and avoided mistakes on Sunday -- and they were lavished with compliments.

"Yesterday was yesterday -- we put that behind us," Busch said after Sunday's race. "Yeah, it was very frustrating. It's one you'll never get back. It's lost, gone. The trophy is not at my house. It's at (race winner Kevin) Harvick's. We looked forward to today. Everybody put their job from yesterday behind them but thought about how to make today better and not have those same mistakes happen again."

That kind of criticism/reward strategy has long been part of KyBusch's modus operandi. Even at his young age, he's one of the most demanding drivers on the Cup circuit. He's demanding of himself, first and foremost. He's demanding of crew chief Steve Addington, who has roughly 20 years and a lot more pounds on Busch but who tolerates the occasional negative verbiage because, he figures, it's just Kyle being Kyle.

Busch is most demanding of his pit crew, whether it's in a Cup, Nationwide or Trucks race. He gives his all to make himself and his team look good, but when his team doesn't respond in kind by making a dumb mistake, it makes him look bad -- and he takes great offense to that, Addington said.

"You have to have tough skin in this business or you need to be doing something else," Addington said. "You have to take constructive criticism and work hard at it.

"(Busch) does an awesome job in that race car. I know that he's out there trying to win. And he just wants us to be that way. That's the way we all look at it. I talked to them this morning. Everything was fine. They understood it. They weren't happy about it, either. I mean, they want to win just as bad as Kyle does and as much as I do."

For his part, Busch took the high road when he walked into the track Sunday morning. He didn't even bring up Saturday afternoon's tirade, let alone bring up the unfortunate episode that occurred on the last pit stop that day.

"No, we (didn't) talk about that," Busch said. "If they don't know (how angry he was), they don't need to be working for me. These guys are great. They appreciate what I do behind the wheel and I appreciate what they do on pit road. That's a given in any team.

"Those guys should hang their head for that night but then wake up the next morning rejuvenated and ready to go and should have thought about all the stuff that happened yesterday and not worry about that today and (not) let it get to them today."

That's Busch for you. He might let some choice words slip right after an incident, but he doesn't dwell on it. He moves on to the next challenge, using a negative turn of events to motivate him and his team.

More often than not, the result is another victory.

"I didn't do so good yesterday of keeping my emotions in check, but this is a little bit of redemption," Busch said Sunday in victory lane. "This place probably owes me a few."

Just like a few more apologies he owes to some of his team members for bouncing back from Saturday's mistake to make him look like what he was on Sunday: good and unbeatable.


  1. He didn't take the high road on Sunday. He mentioned the Nationwide gaffe after the Cup race. He's a great talent who is still obviously immature. A lot of professionals work hard to get him the best ride possible for a race. Next time he wins a Nationwide race, his crew should just walk away and not celebrate with him in victory lane. Maybe then he'll get the message.

  2. One thing to keep in mind is that the kid is only 23 years old. That fact makes his immature actions understandable and his on track performance even more impressive. When Dale Jr. was about the same age he was busy frosting his hair, building a night club in his basement and loosing rookie of the year to Matt Kenseth. I would dare to bet that the Shrub's PR and people skills will improve with age. If the same holds true for his driving abilities, Look Out!

  3. The impression I've gotten, all the way back to the beginning in Busch, is that Kyle's crew guys would walk through fire for him.

    Anyone who has ever worked for a demanding perfectionist of a boss who made the greatest demands on and expected the highest standard of perfection from himself will understand it.

  4. I think the immaturity will be present until he wins his first championship. I think we can probably assign the "he's the next Jeff Gordon" tag to KyBusch at this point, love him or hate him.

  5. Next time he doesn't win a Nationwide race, his crew should just walk away and tell him to clean up pit box.

  6. I've said it before, March 6 2009, "Kyle Busch Proves He's Not All That Bad Of A Guy ", I like Kyle best when he lets his actions speak, and keeps his mouth shut.

  7. On one hand, I can understand the motivation that could come from working for an exacting perfectionist, but over time, I can't help but think that dealing with such mood swings would get wearisome. I wonder if last year's story plays into that...when it really counted, at the end, KyBusch flamed out. Perhaps his team was worn out from his antics. I for one would rather see someone treat people with respect consistently (allowing for an occasional gaffe) and be known for that rather than be a winning jerk.

  8. When he screwed up in the Nationwide race at Vegas he was just as hard on himself. He took full credit for that loss with no excuses.

  9. "This place probably owes me a few."
    No one owes anyone a dang thing. That's been his attitude since day one.
    Was hoping he would lose yesterday... I so enjoy his hissy fits.

  10. Well, I think he has grown up a lot from previous years. So he parked his car and left it on the track. In previous years he would have driven it back to the pits and yelled and screamed at the pit crew. This time he just ignored them. On Sun. morning he said that nobody brought up Sat. miscue, which he also said that the crew knew that they goofed but, also, Sun. is a new day and they both knew they had to get with task at hand. The crew did a great job on Sun. which he acknowledged after the race. He has matured a lot. I loved the dig at Jr. that he made without naming him. Now, talk about a whiner, Jr. is good at that.

  11. Not to mention that he bought the crew lunch this week as usual. No big deal.

  12. Seriously, what is it with all the hate toward Kyle Busch? Or Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson for that matter? Sorry that they're not good ol' Southern boys or that they've all been successful at young ages, but they are what they are: WINNERS. Say what you will about Kyle Busch (and I'm sure y'all have PLENTY to say), but the truth of the matter is in the numbers: Junior's in his 11th year and has all of 18 career wins to show for it. Kyle's been driving 6 years, only 5 of them fulltime, and he has 14 career wins. Kyle Busch is a talented young driver who has a bit of a maturity problem. Fair enough; although I fail to see how Junior cursing his pit crew and telling them that he's going to smack them over the heads with a hammer is a sign of a mature driver. The sad truth is that Busch looks more like the Intimidator on the track than Junior does. In fact, if Dale Sr., God rest his soul, were alive today, HE probably would smack Junior on the head with a hammer for letting Busch verbally punk him and for sullying the Earnhardt name. I think it's time for Junior Nation to wake up and face facts: The problem isn't Teresa Earnhardt, DEI, Tony Eury Jr., or anybody else that Junior Nation wants to blame for their hero's failures. It's the driver and his skills, or lack thereof. Junior is living off his daddy's fame and name, and since he couldn't strong-arm his stepmom to make him majority owner of his daddy's AND HER company, he's going to have to deliver with Hendrick. Because if not, he might go down in history as the Anna Kournikova of NASCAR.

  13. He performs, is young and can talk all he wants. The elite in any field from chefs to ceo's are allowed to be arrogant and install fear into the troops.


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