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Fans are booing the wrong driver

By admin | June 17, 2008

By Richard Allen


The vast majority of e-mails and comments I receive and things I hear fans say on the subject of drivers they like and do not like revolve around the following statements:

Fans say they want a driver who drives hard.

Fans say they are tired of drivers who just say what sponsors and media want to hear. They want a driver who tells the truth rather than a corporate “yes man”.

Fans say they want a driver who races to win, not a points stroker.

Well, here he is. His name is Kyle Busch. And since he is all the things fans say they want he must be the most popular driver on the circuit, right?

Instead, Kyle Busch is actually the most hated driver in NASCAR. So why is it that so many despise the one driver who lives up to the criteria many fans claim they want?

One problem with him, I have been told, is that he is not a “good ole boy”. He is from Las Vegas, not North Carolina, Georgia or Tennessee. Apparently this rule does not apply to popular drivers Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards, none of whom are from the South but all of whom get many cheers and sell lots of souvenirs.

Another reason fans point to for booing Kyle Busch is they never liked his brother.

I have also heard he is unlikable because he drives a Toyota. Well, so does the afore mentioned, and very popular, Stewart.

And of course, his ears are too big, the mention of which prior to the California race made actor Brad Garrett a bit of a hero in some NASCAR circles.

What’s more, if asked who they favor between Kyle Busch and some other drivers Busch would lose on almost every count. Drivers Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and the Labontes would all decidedly be the choice of many racing rooters in a head to head contest against the younger of the Busch brothers.

Each of those mentioned are excellent drivers who have a great many accomplishments in racing. However, each of them embody the complaints fans have against the modern day NASCAR star. They are each known for a laid back driving style, they do not ruffle many feathers and usually say all the right things.

It would seem, if NASCAR fans mean what they say, that those drivers are the ones who should be getting booed. Many will no doubt counter with the argument that those drivers are classy individuals. On that count there can be no argument, but the definition of classy often means a person who does not make waves and says all the right things.

On the other hand, many will no doubt argue that Kyle Busch is a punk. A punk is sometimes another way of saying someone who does not always say or do the things that are meant only to increase one’s popularity.

So, those fans who claim they want their drivers to do and say the things listed above are booing the wrong driver. With that being said I expect to hear resounding cheers for Kyle Busch the next time he is introduced.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

21 Responses to “Fans are booing the wrong driver”

  1. Laura Shanahan Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 5:39 am

    You missed the point. The reason I hate Kyle Busch is that if he doesn’t have the car that can win, he tends to plow into other drivers to beat them. This has happened in all 3 series to different drivers. That’s my definition of a “punk” driver. NASCAR not cracking down on him for it when they take points for language is extremely frustrating.

  2. Crabby Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Its his comments. He wins a race in the COT and says on TV that its junk. He won a truck race 2 weeks ago and the first words out of his mouth was “it was crap”. C’mon jerk, if you don’t like it, don’t race it then. We don’t need those kind of comments from him, it somehow cheapens the sport because he says things like that.

    And he looks like a turd too.

  3. Nancy Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 6:55 am

    Laura Shanahan’s comment hit the nail right on the head.

    Driving hard and wrecking people to get your way are two different things. Witness the finish of the truck race at Michigan. That was great hard racing between Darnell and Benson and it was CLEAN racing. Same thing with Junior and Burton at the end of the race at Pocono. Both made good clean passes and they were racing hard for fourth place at the end.

    One more reason, I dislike Kyle Busch. He does not seem to grasp the concept that racing is a team sport. I lost all respect for him and his talent when he abanadoned his team at Texas last year.

  4. joe mama Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 7:40 am

    You must not be able to see the forrest for the trees. All the points you mentioned are valid but the real reason people boo him is his piss poor attitude. He never takes blame. He drives like he is the only one on the track, forcing other drivers to give, he is self-centered, he has no humility and he oozes feelings of self entitlement.

    He’s a real pleasure.

  5. ed Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 8:46 am

    It’s true. It is his bad attitude that gets the boos. He is an excellent driver and all the other drivers know it. What happened to you can’t win in this league unlesss you have the respect of other drivers, specially the veterans? HAHA. He does have there respect as a driver and they know he is the best right now.

  6. Bob Scott Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Shrub does NOT have the respect of the other drivers–don’t know where you got that.

    They see him as an immature driver who cant’ control his car. And they are right.

  7. David Crispin Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I also think you writers miss the point. He is a total jerk. Yes he can drive fast and if no one else is on the track to crash into he can win. I lived in Las Vegas and I still didn’t like him. So, your geography point is invalid. What he did to Jack Roush early in his career is the primary reason I started to dislike him. He has zero loyalty to his team, his owner, his fans, anyone.

  8. JR Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 9:50 am

    What a bunch of cry babies! Shrub is clearly the best “real” driver in the cup series! More wins + better car control = BEST!

    All the junior nation that are praising junior’s win are the same folks that cried about johnson winning fuel mileage races last year.

    Suck it up, he didn’t win the race, he won the strategy. At least shrub races his wins!

  9. grumpyoldman Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Jealousy is so sad to witness. Kyle is driving circles around most of the lazy old veterans who are just clicking off laps and drawing a paycheck.
    Keep on booing. The more you do, the faster he goes!!!

  10. Charley Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Kyle is booed simply because he is not likable. He hasn’t outgrown that immature, defensive “know it all” attitude that typifies the average PITA teenager.
    If he were to replace his “sulk” with an “attitude of gratitude” those boos would disappear pretty quickly.
    I’m not holding my breath.

  11. BAMA23SMOKE20 Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Excellent, Excellent article…..
    Kyle is not my favorite driver, obviously by the choice of my moniker, but he does display all the attributes that any “old-school” fan loves to watch.
    Your column/web site just got added to my “favorites” page, along with any and all columns that speak-out against the “biased” and “favoritism” that NASCAR shows to any driver based solely on “his” name or marketability.

  12. Kentucky Bill Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Kyle Busch is a jerk. He seems to like being a jerk. His brother was a jerk, but he learned to shut up so now he is liked better. If he acted like that at a small local track, someone would cream him. It’s not his talent, it’s his stupidity.

  13. wayne Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 10:54 am

    all of you hate him because he wins. sounds like a bunch goof ball jr. fans he is easy to root for because he is a loser. kyle is more like dale sr. than anyone and that scares alot of people

  14. Pat Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I don’t fit the profile of a NASCAR fan, but I do attend many races. I am a 70 year old college educated grandma and I really enjoy watching Kyle on the track - yes, he is a brash young man and he calls it like he sees it - we don’t have to agree with him, but thank heavens, he speaks his mind. I really don’t know what ears have to do with racing, but if others deem it important, I feel sorry for their slant on racing. There are probably as many cheers for Kyle as boo’s but boo’s are usually louder. Some of the best drivers in the history of NASCAR were heralded with the same greetings - I would imagine that it is not fun to be the driver the fans love to hate, but it seems that one is required for the health of NASCAR. I do hope that Kyle is laughing all the way to the bank!!!!

  15. Jdub Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 11:24 am

    As far as complaining and wrecks never being his fault how about Mr. Stewart?

    The kid is young and can drive the heck out of a race car in 10 years the kid will be a fan fav….look at Dale Sr. he was looked at as a dick and so was DW….

    Fans boo him for the same reason they booed/boo Gordon serious talent….

  16. eman Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Kyle Busch is an excellent driver when he wants to be. He has the potential for greatness, but the problem- in the words of Bobby Bousche’s mother (Waterboy)- is that he “don’t got what people call the social skills.” I think this partly has to do with his father and mother not giving him even sort of a normal childhood, so he doesn’t know how to interact with people. Go rent Grandma’s Boy and you will see a carbon copy of Kyle Busch. The guy that is the wizard game designer acts just like KB.

  17. ed Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    How can the old racing adage be true that if you don’t have the respect of the drivers you will never make it in NASCAR? Do you not know this golden rule spewed out by fans/journalists and has been racers who refuse to accept any change? You are not paying attention Bob Scott.

    You are very much incorrect. The car has changed and if you want to win you have to be on the edge. Thank god that this has come back into the sport. Actually thank NASCAR.

    I am so happy the series isn’t like how it used to be. Just ride around unless your car is set up perfectly. Guys like Ken Schrader or M. Waltrip who are just looking for a top 20 by hoping some other guys crash out.

    The drivers witht he most car control are coming to the front as always but now there are some guys who are not afraid to wreck for a win.

  18. nicole Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    How do you know he doesn’t have the respect of other drivers? All these fans assume that because they don’t like him the drivers don’t like him.

    I know Kyle personaly and he’s actually a pretty nice guy, cocky and arrogant, yes but you show me one 23 year old pro athlete that isn’t. Ya’ll forget how young he is, and what your beloved Dale Sr’ or Jr Johnson was like at that age.

  19. Jeff Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Wahhh!! Sounds to me like the fans are crying more than the drivers these days. Great article Richard Allen!

    Between being Kurt’s younger brother AND driving for Hendrick, people hated him before he ever stepped into a race car. I remember people booing him just a few races into his career, before he had done anything yet! The fans that dislike him will always find a reason to dislike him, no matter how trivial. Everyone acts like he’s the first driver to do any of these things. He wasn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. I don’t seem to recall Tony Stewart being a saint early on in his career. People only remember what they want to.

    Kyle is only going to keep on winning races. The haters may not like it, but they are going to have to get used to it. Personally, I love him for all the reasons mentioned in this article. Kyle Busch is a RACER.

  20. James C. Sauls Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    I cheer Kyle Busch for all the reasons mentioned. I am not the hypocritical fan that thinks what he says is any different that what others say. He is a throwback to old school racing. If you want someone polite and PC, the perhaps Jeff Gordon is your man. He is also happy with a 5th place finish. But when the next hotshot comes on the scene, like Joey Lagano, they will boo him and cheer Busch. It’s the NASCAR cycle.

  21. D Jones Says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    The reason I don’t like Kyle is mainly his attitude. How dare he b**** about the car/truck and finish in the top five, or win. What other drivers wouldn’t give…..
    Regarding if other drivers like or respect him, let’s ask Kevin Harvick.