By admin | July 10, 2009
By Richard Allen
Kyle Busch has made pretty good sport of firing verbal jabs at Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his ‘Junior Nation’ over the past year or so. That has made for some good headlines and has kept things a bit lively.
But now, after his last lap crash in Daytona, young Mr. Busch has decided that at least for a while he is going to turn his fury on Tony Stewart.
Junior is a fairly laid back person who seems to take things in stride and not get too excited over Busch’s antics. Once in a while Junior will fire back at Busch, but for the most part, he doesn’t seem to get too bothered by the verbal shots. However, many members of the ‘Junior Nation’ do get plenty riled as is evidenced by the booing of Busch in pre-race introductions.
This week, reports out of Chicago have it that Busch is still upset with Stewart over their last lap tangle in the Coke Zero 400 that sent Busch into the wall and Stewart into victory lane.
Busch claimed Stewart “dumped” him on the dash toward the finish line. Clearly, he believes the fault for the accident lies with the driver who was in second at the time despite the fact that many saw it as a ‘racing deal’ or even that Busch took himself out with overzealous blocking.
Busch went on to say that NASCAR should implement rules to deal with last lap incidents. “NASCAR can take a step in looking at it and if the second place driver dumps, quote unquote, the leader, then black flag his ass,” he said. “He doesn’t get the win, you know. If he’s on him from behind and moves him out of the way and there’s no wreck then fine he can win the race but if you’re up along side the guy and you dump him then I say black flag him and give the win the third-place driver.”
In Busch’s defense, these same two drivers played out a similar scenario during the Nationwide race at Daytona in February, but with Busch in 2nd place. In that case, there was no wreck.
So far, Stewart has been remarkably calm this season. Perhaps team ownership has caused him to turn over a new leaf of sorts. He actually sounded apologetic in victory lane last week. However, any verbal provocation from his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate might be just the trimmer that will awaken the sleeping volcano within ‘Smoke’.
If Busch says the right thing, or maybe the wrong thing, at the right time it may be more than the boos of ‘Junior Nation’ he will get in return.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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