The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is just six races old, but already, we have seen some pretty weird stuff. A race car takes out a jet dryer, there’s a weird jumble of drivers near the top of the leader board, and the list doesn’t include some names we expect to be there.
What in the name of Fireball Roberts is going on here? We’ve got Michael Waltrip Racing running with the big dogs, and where are the Busch brothers? Remember those guys? Yes, they are still in NASCAR, but neither Kyle nor Kurt are making the headlines fans are accustomed to.
Kurt Busch can be somewhat excused given his circumstances. Jettisoned off to Phoenix Racing, a one car show, the 2004 champion is in something of an exile mode. Busch the Elder is running 26th in points, a far fall from his customary position in the top ten somewhere. He did grab a top ten in the rain-shortened affair at Fontana, and his 15th place run at Phoenix must be considered something of a moral victory, but that’s offset by disappointing runs in Martinsville (33rd) and his hometown track at Las Vegas (35th). Welcome to the less glamorous side of NASCAR, Mr. Busch.
While Kurt’s fall was expected, Kyle’s pedestrian performance has been curious to say the least. Other than getting a good sniff at a possible win in southern California (Tony Stewart pilfered the checkered flag there in the liquid sunshine), and that non-points win in the Bud Shootout, Kyle Busch has been as snake bit as a city slicker on safari.
You can’t hang this one on Joe Gibbs. Denny Hamlin is contending again, and even Joey “Freakin’” Logano is running ahead of the rowdy one. Quick, how many of you expected Kyle to be 16th in points at this juncture of the season. You, in the back, stop lying! Granted, there’s little doubt there are those fans of a certain red-headed driver that are getting a knowing chuckle out of Busch’s misfortune.
One other thought struck this observer when it comes to the Busch brothers, even more astounding than their subpar results: neither have had one of their famous meltdowns yet. Oh, there’s no doubt this has been frustrating, and a lot has been said where fewer people could hear it, but you know if there were something highly inflammatory been said on the radio, you know we would have heard it. That’s actually pretty impressive if you think about it, and I don’t think this says by any means that anyone has lost their edge.
Kyle says he’s joined the crew in taking a few days away during the Easter break; it’s probably not a bad idea. Truth be told, one shouldn’t expect the foul fortunes of Busch the Younger to last much longer. Nothing is suggesting that the winner of 23 Cup races is experiencing anything more than a little bad luck, something even Jimmie Johnson knows a thing or two about in recent history. For Kurt, it’s a different ballgame, but suffice it to say the older bro came in with an entirely different set of standards, even if his team has some Hendrick technology to work with.
Enjoy your respite, Busch bashers, I’d be expecting a return to regularly scheduled programming soon. Regardless of their flaws personally, these two are too talented to be mired in the traffic. Who knows? It’s perhaps possible a helping of humble pie is just the nourishment needed to fuel an inspired run to daylight.
Other articles by Jim McCoy include:
A Minority Report On The Martinsville Madness
Fans, You Have Bruton's Attention
Jim McCoy is a TV and radio sports anchor living in Oregon with his wife and three kids. Jim also moonlights as a radio play-by-play man and writes about his true sports passion: NASCAR. Racing is a sport, the others are just games, to paraphrase.