Kyle Busch: Winning Fans, Silencing Foes?

Kyle in Victory Lane

Cue the music “There’s something happening here.” Kyle Busch, who spotted the field an 11 race lead while recovering from a broken leg and broken foot has come storming towards the front of the field; to wit, he’s won two straight races and three of his last four. In the process, the 30-year old- widely considered to be one of the most talent and one of the most controversial- appears to be gaining respect, and dare we say, a few admirers along the way.

Few have questioned his talent- not only did Kyle Busch reach NASCAR before he could legally drink a beer- he’s been a winner and a contender throughout his notable career. In greater numbers are those who have been turned off by the way he has conducted himself on and off the track. How many of you- like me- have said “He’s got a lot of talent, but man, what a jerk! I’ll grant he’s a good driver, but it doesn’t mean I have to like him.” There have been more than a few times in his career where we thought we were seeing a “new and improved” Kyle Busch, then a race would go poorly, he showed his butt again, and we’d all be thinking, “same song, different verse.”

Something’s different this time, and there are a number of reasons why. His wife Samantha has definitely brought a touch of class into the life of Kyle Busch. Add to that his infant son Brexton after the couple struggled with infertility, and there’s definitely a softer side of Rowdy showing in Victory Lane, as he playfully shows his son the Loudon Lobster. You also can’t help but think the culture at Joe Gibbs Racing is rubbing off on Busch as well. Samantha Busch has told the media that her husband has become a more spiritual man in the wake of his adversity earlier this year, causing to see the challenges he’s enduring not as a problem, but as an opportunity to grow- as a racer, and as a person.

Some may opine that its easy to be all joyful and jubilant when you’re winning. Fair enough. We’ve seen this movie before; however, things in the life of Kyle Busch are far different than they’ve been before. Family and faith have a way of changing things. I, for one, don’t think the tiger has lost his stripes, but when you’ve come through a trial by fire, and you have to go a protracted period without something you love doing, you do develop a greater sense of appreciation for what you had.

It’s interesting to watch the reaction of fans to the resurgence of Kyle Busch. I’ve seen more than a few fans who previously hated him at the very least wish him well. Others have said “I’m not really a Kyle Busch fan, but I wouldn’t wish what happened to him on my worst enemy. I don’t root for the guy, but NASCAR isn’t the same without him.” There are also yet others who seeing this perhaps as the great sports feel good story of 2015.

What about you? Have you found yourself with a different point of view on Kyle Busch? Do you see a change in him, or is it merely- in your opinion- a byproduct of his recent success? For this observer, I’ve always been a Joe Gibbs fan. I can’t say that I always felt that way about most of his drivers. I like that I see some of that same fearlessness that most of us fans at least respected in Kyle Busch, and now, a driver with perhaps a greater sense of perspective on life and racing.