BRISTOL, Tenn._ In one of the most unique pre-race driver introductions in all of NASCAR, Bristol Motor Speedway allowed drivers to walk out to entrance music and say something to the crowd before the race. While this started out fairly tame and a bit tedious, Kyle Busch lit the crowd on fire when he was introduced.
One night after proudly spinning Brad Keselowski for the lead in the Nationwide Series race – a race he eventually won – the estimated 155,000 strong crowd let the Joe Gibbs Racing driver know how they felt. Among a shower of boos that echoed around the half-mile track, Busch took to the microphone saying, “Awwww, ya’ll are soooo loving. Thank you…I’m ready to win it again.”
A few drivers later, Keselowski walked down the ramp, grabbed the microphone and introduced himself by saying, “Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge. Kyle Busch is an ass!”
The crowd when absolutely nuts as Keselowski smiled and walked to the truck ready to parade him around the track.
Those that followed added their thoughts with Matt Kenseth saying, “How do you follow that up?” AJ Allmendinger adding, “I just hope I’m ahead of Brad and Kyle when this all goes down tonight.” Tony Stewart pointing out, “Unlike Allmendinger, I want to be around Kyle and Brad because I want to see a hell of a wreck. ” And Joey Logano agreeing with Stewart, “I’m with Smoke on that.”
Already fired up for a short track Saturday night race at the ‘World’s Fastest Half-Mile’ Keselowski set the stage for the night, but in the end Busch had the last laugh.
As the race got underway, Keselowski had Denny Hamlin and Busch lined up directly behind him. Having issues in the past, and not-so-distant past, with both, there was no telling what could potentially happen.
Once underway, it became clear Keselowski had nothing for Busch. Making his way to the front of the field, Busch captured the lead for the first time of the night by diving under Jimmie Johnson and the lapped car of Elliott Sadler to make it three-wide. Busch prevailed and went on to lead the next 23 laps.
While Johnson was able to recapture the lead on pit road, Busch once again took it three-wide for the lead, this time with David Reutimann on the inside and Johnson in the middle.
“The outside is always the fast time on the restart, the fast line I should say,” Busch said. “I got up on the high side and I planned on following him, but he slowed up so much I was like, ‘okay, I’ll just let it drift up and go around him,’ and I throttled up and got to his corner and knew we were either going to wreck or we were going to get off the corner because Jimmie is professional and he knows how to race.”
Once in command of the event, Busch refused to give up the lead. Working through lapped traffic during the green flag runs, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver went on to lead 188 of the next 189 laps.
Forced to contend with a hard-charging Jamie McMurray and strong David Reutimann, Busch was ultimately able to regain the lead for the final time on Lap 429 by getting the No. 00 of Reutimann loose and scooting by on the inside.
Scoring the win, Busch became the only driver in NASCAR history to win in all three series in the same weekend. On Wednesday night he piloted the Kyle Busch Motorsports truck to Victory Lane from the back of the pack and on Friday he spun Keselowski late in the going to win the Nationwide Series race in controversial fashion. Saturday he finally closed the deal and scored the unprecedented trifecta.
“This is awesome,” Busch said with a broom in hand. “I love the opportunity to come out here. I love Bristol and I love winning. And to do it for the first time ever in NASCAR, to sweep the weekend, man, that’s pretty awesome. I don’t know what to think. I’ve been trying to do this since I got to NASCAR, since I got my NASCAR career. Fortunately, tonight I was able to get it done, be the first one to do it. I’m the first in a lot of things.”
Along with putting his name in the record books yet again, the win also silenced the crowd that raucously booed him prior to the race. Knowing he is loved by some and hated by many, Busch acknowledges the importance of the fans and knows the best thing he can do is race his car as best he can.
“I feel like I just come out here to do my job,” Busch said. “I do what I’m supposed to do, and to win races is my job and what that entails. And secondly, it’s to make J.D. (Gibbs, team president) happy and Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the sponsors and those guys happy. And then thirdly, it’s to try to sell souvenirs. The fans are what drives this sport and what makes us go round and get us here every week. So it’s cool to have them here, and they’re passionate about who they like and who they don’t like.
“I feel like to me I’ve been in this position since the upstart of my career, since I was 16, and it hasn’t changed, and I don’t foresee it changing any time soon.”
As far as his reaction to being called an “ass” by Keselowski during driver introductions, well Busch seemed to shrug that off.
When asked about the incident, Busch simply said, “Who?” To which ESPN’s Marty Smith responded, “Brad Keselowski.” “Yeah, I don’t know who you’re talking about,” Busch said.” Smith said, “Okay. He drives the No. 12 car.” With a smirk, Busch said, “I saw it. But passed it.”
Keselowski explained: "I said, ‘Hell yeah I’ll do it!’ The preacher was standing there and I said, ‘Hey man, would you be offended if I said, ‘Ass?’
"He said, ‘No, man! ‘Ass’ is in the Bible.’ I said, ‘Thank you very much!’"
The comment elicited a wild response from the crowd, but at the end of the night Busch had yet another checkered flag in hand and another trophy for the mantle.
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