Looking for a politically incorrect NASCAR driver? A number of fans have lamented they no longer exist. Do you read all the laments by fans that racers have become corporate friendly automatons? Yes, NASCAR has developed- perhaps to its detriment- a more polished look over the years. Rugged Richard Petty has given way to genteel Jimmie Johnson.
Yes, NASCAR and its participants have recognized the need to represent their benefactors (read that “sponsors”) well. That means effusive thanksgiving in victory and graciousness in defeat. Remember when Scott’s nearly dumped Carl Edwards during his feud with Brad Keselowski? Mars made it clear it was none too happy with Kyle Busch when he earned a one-race suspension for ramming Ron Hornaday Jr. at Texas in 2011. Fans may not dig the politically correct NASCAR driver, buts sponsors love them, especially when the victor launches into a tidy little sales pitch in victory lane a la Edwards.
While NASCAR’s image has wandered far from the days of moonshiners behind the wheel, the hard-charging, politically incorrect NASCAR driver is not quite extinct. Exhibit “A” is none other than one Kyle Thomas Busch.
Just about the time we think that Samantha and Coach Gibbs have neutered him, he responds with these choice little digs at his critics (click here). This is a more measured response than what is sometimes seen on the track. No one likes to be hated, but like that immortal philosopher Popeye said, “I yam what I yam.” Busch seems at peace with it.
If you will allow me to write as a fan for a moment, it’s not my style. I’ll admit I don’t root for the likes of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and I didn’t Tony Stewart or Dale Earnhardt back in the day. “It ain’t me, Babe,” Bob Dylan would say. Personal opinion aside, I will agree with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in opining that a politically incorrect NASCAR driver like Busch is needed. Deep down inside, the governing body knows it too. The sponsors? Well, that one’s a stickier wicket, but if enough Busch fans are buying what he’s selling, they’ll live with it.
To really make it work, you have to be a winner. One could draw some similarities between the Las Vegas native and former NASCAR free spirit Robby Gordon. But Kyle Busch is a NASCAR champion and 40 time Cup Series winner. Those ends seem to justify the means. If a politically incorrect NASCAR driver isn’t a winner, then he’s more like a man shouting at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
You see, it’s most of all the winning the draws the fans. The words and actions of Kyle Busch helps sell the narrative that it is victory that matters most. As much as his legion of critics scream disapproval, his fans can counter with “Scoreboard!” Winning is a great deodorant.
Politically incorrect NASCAR drivers? If one thinks they have all gone the way of the blue-footed boobie, there is ample evidence to the contrary in Kyle Busch. Just as the NFL needs the Raiders, NASCAR needs a Kyle Busch. A lot of fans don’t like him, but there’s no small number who wouldn’t be the fans they are without him.
I’ve said it before, Kyle Busch is NASCAR’s guilty pleasure.