Harvick: There’s More to it Than “Punk Ass Kids”

Kevin Harvick, who is leaving RCR for Stewart-Haas, made the headlines this past weekend due to his emotional outburt at the team owners grandson’s, Austin and Ty Dillon.

The day the second Benz Patent-Motorwagen was built, auto racing began. Along with it, the financial constraints of competing in a new and bold sport showcasing the fruits of the Industrial Revolution became readily apparent.

In other words it cost a boatload of money to race cars. Apparently this epiphany, seemingly brought on by a lightning bolt from heaven, hit Kevin Harvick at a truck race in Martinsville this past week.

Harvick, who was spun out by the grandson of Richard Childress, Ty Dillon, set in motion long pent up anger against the Richard Childress Racing organization, the Sprint Cup team for which Harvick drives. For three more races.

Was Harvick not given all the tools to win a championship under the RCR banner? Did he not spend a huge amount of his career with Childress? He was given all those opportunities and, frankly, he earned it.

What is puzzling is that Harvick didn’t or does not yet understand that it’s cubic dollars, combined with talent, that win races. It doesn’t matter that the Dillon’s are wealthy, it just rubs some the wrong way in a sport, NASCAR, that had very humble and grass-root beginnings.

Childress and Harvick in happier times.

Not one single aspiring driver with limited funds has ever turned up at a race to compete anywhere on the globe and at any point in history where the “Rich Kids” weren’t there. Many times their equipment was the deciding factor in their wins, overriding the talent they may have possessed.

You can’t hate the wealthy for taking advantage of what they have to win. What does Harvick propose? Wealth redistribution in

auto racing?

Very, very few drivers in the modern era have ever made it to the top broke or without a hand up from parents or a friend. A few, but a precious few. Carl Edwards comes to mind.

That’s what set NASCAR apart, in the early days, from global racing such as Grand Prix, in NASCAR they had a chance. No more.

I think the old adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt”, applies in the RCR/Harvick dustup.

Austin and Ty Dillon along with their Grandfather, Richard Childress.

There’s more to this story than meets the eye. What that is, we may never know.

It took a truck race to bring this out?

I have never been a proponent of dropping down to a lower series to compete. Once you’ve reached the top of your particular type of auto racing, that’s what you should concentrate on and nothing else. Jimmie Johnson should be the example to examine.

Regarding the on-track incident, Richard Childress said: “These aren’t spoiled rich kids. These are hard-working young men that believe in what they’re doing. They knew they had to prove themselves. They have to race to be up front to keep a job. And they knew that when I put them in the first car. It’s just not fair for someone to make a statement like that. It’s not fair to the sport. There are so many families in this sport, it’s founded on family. Look at the history from the France family. No one has to apologize for giving their family the opportunity.”

Paraphrasing, Childress also said he was more upset with Harvick’s words than the on-track incident. He went on to say, “95% of drivers” understood that families often have to finance the early stages of a career, whether “it’s buying a go-kart or building a Late Model so a car owner or sponsor comes along and gives them an opportunity.”

Charlie Sheen’s sit-com…”Anger Management”

Harvick stated before the media that the incident was: “exactly the reason why I’m leaving RCR, because you’ve got those kids coming up, and they’ve got no respect for what they do in this sport and they’ve had everything fed to them with a spoon.”

According to Childress, Harvick, in 13 seasons, never said anything about the two grandsons being an issue but apparently they either were the problem or perhaps it’s deeper than that.

Jeff Gordon has remained with Hendrick all these years for more than just the equipment. He has equity in the team. Kevin Harvick does not. Perhaps that was more important than many believe. Only Delana Harvick knows.

Harvick has but three races left with RCR before he migrates to the Stewart-Haas AG (Anger Management) team where he faces personalities very similar to his own, sans Danica Patrick.

They’ll either push each other to perform better or they’ll come unglued and end up as revolving guests on Charlie Sheen’s television show.

Either way, everyone should be able to accept that if you have the talent, however you get to the top that is legitimate (read legal) is acceptable and the drivers who were made it by virtue of being members of the “Lucky Sperm Club” shouldn’t be disparaged.

 

 

Annett, Dillon – Nationwide Kids Emerging From Shadow Of Greatness

Austin Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress, drives the iconic No. 3 car in the Nationwide Series and has become a winner this year. He's a past truck series champion.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Mark DeCotis is a veteran journalist who spent 37 years in the newspaper business before beginning a second career combining leisure and earning a living. 

He covered 26 Daytona 500s, numerous Pepsi/Coke Zero 400s, Busch/Nationwide, Trucks, more than a few Rolex 24s at Daytona, season finales at Homestead, Kevin Harvick’s emotional first win at Atlanta, IndyCar, sports car, NHRA, motorcycle, ATV and power boat racing.

His favorite race car driver interviews of all time were with 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force).

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – They sat erect and alert at the podium, their squared shoulders and “I’ve done this before” demeanor bearing up to the pressures born of the prestige of their car numbers and their car owners.

NASCAR Nationwide drivers – in alphabetical order since putting one before the other in any other measure would be unfair given any number of parameters – Michael Annett and Austin Dillon met with reporters at Daytona on Thursday.

It didn’t take long for the inquisition to arrive at the expectations inherent in their respective rides – Annett in the No. 43 raised to the stratosphere of NASCAR lore by now 75-year-old Richard Petty and Dillon in the No. 3, elevated beyond any mortal reckoning since it belonged the sport’s patron saint Dale Earnhardt.

From all outward appearances Annett and Dillon are handling things quite well.

Dillon, the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion won his first Nationwide race last Friday night and is second in points in the car owned by his grandfather Richard Childress – we’ll get to that dynamic later – who also was Earnhardt’s boss when the driver ran roughshod through the sport, winning seven championships at NASCAR’s elite level.

Only one other driver in NASCAR history has won seven championships – that being Petty – so the pairing as the speedway kicked off its annual mid-summer three-day show was not purely coincidental.

Michael Annett is a Nationwide driver, who, like Dillon, competes for a storied NASCAR competitor - Richard Petty. Both he and Dillon are now racing amid the shadows of greatness.

It was revealing and a bit of a throwback to racing’s earlier, and some would say better, days right down to the cowboy hat – courtesy of Charlie 1 Horse, the same company that supplies Petty’s iconic lids – worn by Dillon.

Although Dillon, 22, maintained it was more of a matter of he and his younger brother, 2011 ARCA series champion Ty Dillon – who has a full-time ride in the truck series in, yes, the No. 3 – just being boys, the fact that a high-profile NASCAR driver was appearing publicly without a sponsor’s logo adorning his head cover caught a few eyes.

For his part Annett, 26, had a career-best fourth-place finish at Kentucky and is seventh in points. While his future might not be as secure as Dillon’s, given the parade of drivers who have passed through the revolving door of Petty’s Cup operation and that his grandfather is not his boss, he maintained Petty made him feel “like you’re his kid or his grandkid.”

Stepping back, that is cause for a pause given that Petty lost his grandson Adam Petty in an accident at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000, a void that will never, ever be filled.

To that end it was only natural to inquire of Dillon of how Childress managed the relationship of grandfather to grandson.

He answered from the heart, with humor.

“It’s pretty interesting if you listen to a radio conversation between my grandfather, my dad, myself, crew chief,” he said.

“It seems like it takes a win or running good to get them off the radio. Anytime I start slipping back or something goes wrong I hear more and more. So I do whatever I can to stay up front so I don’t have to hear from them.

“My grandfather, he does a good job of balancing that. He steps in when he sees something that could be going wrong and that’s when he kind of becomes the leader that he is.”

So, while praising his grandfather, Dillon also didn’t pass up a chance to give him a dig either, saying the reason Childress didn’t wear a cowboy hat like Petty, Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough and others from the rough and tumble era was that Childress had “pretty hair.”

That’s not the kind of remark one would expect to emanate from the more reserved Annett who naturally is still getting comfortable with Petty. But in the end it comes down to young kids hoping to emerge from shadows cast by giants.

And so far, so good.

JUNIOR JOHNSON: In 1987 First Choice As Driver, Dale Earnhardt, Inexplicably Turned Down

When Junior Johnson's two-car operation came to an end after the 1986, it evolved that he hired Terry Labonte, the 1984 champion, as the driver for his single-car team in 1987.

After the 1986 NASCAR Winston Cup season, things underwent significant changes at Junior Johnson & Associates in Ronda, N.C.

Gone were the tandem drivers Darrell Waltrip and Neil Bonnet – a union that lasted the three seasons Johnson committed to a two-car team.

Waltrip had been with Johnson since 1981. Together they won three championships and 43 races. From 1974-80, Cale Yarborough also won three championships and earned 44 victories driving for Johnson.

All three men are now members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

But in 1987, Johnson was at a crossroads. He had to determine if he was going to continue to operate a two-car team or return to a single-car operation.

But what was even more important was for Johnson to find a new driver.

At the time there were more than a few accomplished drivers available.

But Johnson really didn’t consider most of them.

He knew exactly who he wanted.

Junior’s contributions to www.motorsportsunplugged.com will appear every other Friday throughout the season.

The 1987 season was going to be a new start for Junior Johnson & Associates. You might say the slate was clean.

After Darrell and Neil departed I mulled over what I should do. I didn’t think it was possible to field two teams again because I was pretty certain Budweiser didn’t want to stretch its investment.

I decided to put the sponsorship money in one basket and field just one team. I thought that would increase our competitiveness and I knew it would help the budget.

I knew who I wanted to be my driver – Dale Earnhardt. Yep, that’s what I said.

I know this sounds very surprising, given I got very angry and upset with him because of his actions at Richmond in 1986, where wrecked Darrell and took him out of the race.

Despite that, I knew Earnhardt was the man.

Yes, he wrecked Darrell but that, to me, was the sign of his aggressiveness and willingness to win at all cost.

His run-in with Darrell certainly wasn’t the only one he had in 1986, but it did enhance his growing reputation as a driver who wasn’t going to be trifled with.

He reminded me of Cale. Both of them knew only one way to race – very hard and up front as much as possible.

Besides, Earnhardt won five races in ’86 and beat Darrell for the championship. It was his second career title and I thought he could win a lot more.

So why not let him grab of couple of championships in my cars?

The driver Junior wanted in 1987 was none other than Dale Earnhardt, who had his run-ins with Darrell Waltrip in 1986. However, Junior's sponsor, Budweiser, would not approve.

In the past Dale had indicated to me that he would like to be my driver some day. In 1987, he was scheduled to be Richard Childress’ driver for the third consecutive year.

They first joined forces for the last portion of the 1981 season, when Dale bolted from owner J.D. Stacy, and they reunited in 1984.

I had done a lot of favors for Richard over the years, both when he was driving and when he concentrated on being an owner.

I had helped bring him and Dale together in ’81 and also assisted in locating a sponsor.

So I didn’t feel bad about offering Dale my ride.

But I couldn’t.

For some reason – and I don’t know what it was to this day – Budweiser didn’t want Dale.

I was very, very surprised. He was an up-and-coming driver who had already won two championships and was likely to win more.

His presence on and off the track had to make the folks at Wrangler – his sponsor for six years – delighted.

But Budweiser was insistent. It wanted me to get someone else.

So after a while I got together with Terry Labonte.

Labonte was a winning driver. He was also the 1984 Winston Cup champion. He had raced since 1979 with team owner Billy Hagan but by 1987 that was coming to an end due to Hagan’s financial problems.

Terry might not have been my first choice but he was the man Budweiser wanted.

There were a lot of drivers I could have tapped at the time but Budweiser had been part of Terry’s career in the past and liked him and what he did for them as far as public relations was concerned.

When I hired Terry, I knew things were going to be different – and not necessarily only on the track.

Terry had a personality unlike Darrell’s and even Cale’s. I don’t have to tell you how outspoken and, let’s face it, “mouthy” Darrell could be.

Terry, well, his nickname was “The Iceman.” That was partly due to his cold, calculating style of racing – he reminded folks of David Pearson.

But he also got the name because he didn’t talk much. He was just a quiet guy who said something only when he felt he had something to say.

It was going to take a while for all of us at Junior Johnson & Associates to get used to him.

I liked his demeanor. He took his racing in stride. It didn’t matter what happened to him. He didn’t blame anyone for what happened to him. He took all the blame, even when I thought it wasn’t necessary.

For the most part he let others do the talking.

When the 1987 season began I was optimistic that we could do good things with Terry. He was a proven commodity and, if we could put good cars under him, there was no reason we couldn’t win.

But even with that, inside I felt like a man who let a record-setting fish get away.

If I had it to do over I would have put Terry in the Budweiser car and found the sponsorship to put Dale in a second car. I think me and Dale would have done very well together.

That, however, was not going to be the case.

Nevertheless, I still thought Dale was going to do very, very well in 1987.

Turns out it didn’t take long at all to learn I was right. Not long at all.

The Iconic No. 3 Has Its Place In NASCAR Sprint Cup Competition

The "stylized" No. 3 that was attached to Dale Earnhardt for so many years has yet to return to NASCAR Sprint Cup after his death in 2001. Some fans say it should never be restored.

Few topics are more polarizing in NASCAR today than what Richard Childress should do with his No. 3 in the Sprint Cup Series.

Fueled by strong, emphatic emotion, the No. 3 can rarely be discussed without passion.

There are usually two camps:  One distinctly in favor of retiring the number from competition and one comfortable with its return to Sprint Cup.

Those vehemently against seeing the RCR No. 3 car in competition feel the number is synonymous with Dale Earnhardt. They believe that when Earnhardt died, at Daytona in 2001, the era of the No. 3 car ended.

Earnhardt made the No. 3 iconic.

To see the No. 3 on the track in first, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and, currently, the NASCAR Nationwide Series, is disturbing to many. They are uncomfortable with their hero’s number in competition when he is not the driver.

Like the No. 99 of the National Hockey League’s Wayne Gretzky or a long roster of numbers in Major League Baseball, there are legions of fans who feel Earnhardt’s No. 3 should be retired lest anybody forget him and his accomplishments.

They feel no driver is worthy of strapping into a race car with the number that so prominently identifies Earnhardt.

There are those fans, however, which feel differently. They may have reverence for Earnhardt, but understand that a number is not the driver.

Some fans are old-timers who have been NASCAR supporters for several decades. They recall a time before Earnhardt occupied the No. 3. Others are newer fans that may never have seen “The Intimidator” drive.

These fans either have a respect for the history of the sport and the fact that Earnhardt was a profoundly important part of it, or simply do not have an emotional attachment and do not feel the need to see the No. 3 retired.

My favorite part of being a columnist is being able to express my opinion openly.

I have made it clear that I had one favorite driver in all my years of watching NASCAR and that was Earnhardt. When he died, as part of my grieving process I walked away from the sport for many years.

I’ve watched programs about Earnhardt, talked about him and written about him a lot over the years and will continue to do so. He is a large part of my NASCAR fabric and I feel his absence daily.

My stance about the No. 3 in Cup competition may surprise some, but I think I can back up my position fairly.

While I consider writing and talking about NASCAR as my job, it is also my passion. I listen to podcasts, radio shows, and read myriad articles on the subject.

Recently, Richard Childress was heard on several programs discussing the future of the No. 3, the number he “owns” and has used since 1976.

Childress understands the emotional attachment people have with the “stylized No. 3” that Earnhardt ran. He is sensitive to the legion of fans who still worship Earnhardt and thus, by association, the No. 3.

But Childress has been doing an awful lot of interviews concerning grandson Austin Dillon’s use of the number and his team’s intentions when it enters the Cup Series.

The No. 3 Chevrolet, with Earnhardt aboard, began its NASCAR journey over three decades ago and for years featured Wrangler as the sponsor.

The No. 3 was brought back to NASCAR in 2009 after a hiatus following Earnhardt’s death – save the one time Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove it in a Nationwide race in 2002. Dillon started using the number in Iowa in the truck series and by 2010 ran the number full time on that circuit.

In 2010 Dillon won rookie of the year honors in the NCWTS. In 2011 he became the series champion.

This year Dillon is running in the Nationwide Series with the No. 3.

So why is Dillon granted permission to run the No. 3 in both the NCWTS and the NNS? It is because he is Childress’ grandson. NASCAR is rich with legacies. Among Childress’ legacies is a race team for his grandson.

When Childress was asked earlier this year if the No. 3 would ever be used by Dillon in Sprint Cup, he replied, “I never say never.”

Childress does emphasize that it is the “stylized No. 3” that everyone associates with Earnhardt.

In a different interview posted on the Jayski website, Childress reminisced: “Dale had his picture taken with Austin (and Ty Dillon) in victory lane in the 1998 Daytona 500.”

His point is that Earnhardt adored grandson Dillon and would be very proud of the driver he has become.

Later in the Jayski interview Childress recounted, “Many people drove the No. 3 car throughout history.”

Also quoted on the same Jayski program was a fantastic sound byte by Earnhardt Jr.

Eloquent and thoughtful, Earnhardt Jr. said, “(The No. 3 car) is like a bank where you deposit history.”

Clearly Earnhardt Jr. has no issue with the possibility of the No. 3 car running in Cup, especially with Dillon as the driver.

Earnhardt Jr. does admit Dillon would have a rough road to navigate in terms of fans’ reactions to the No. 3 in Cup, but, personally, he is fine with the situation.

My opinion is Dillon should run the No. 3 in the Sprint Cup Series. NASCAR has no history of retiring numbers.

Childress has created an amazing legacy for his grandson – grandsons when Ty is included – that he should be proud to carry into the next generation.

Even Earnhardt Jr., arguably the one man who could drive the No. 3 whom fans of all mindsets might possibly accept, feels Dillon has every right to drive the car bearing that number.

When Earnhardt was alive he began procuring a legacy for his own family in the form of Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. That organization provided a ride for Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt Jr.’s grandfather, the late Ralph Earnhardt, drove the No. 8. That was the number fit for the grandson. That was Dale Jr.’s legacy, not the No. 3.

I believe Earnhardt would be fine should Dillon create a new chapter for the No. 3 car. What would upset Earnhardt is that his son doesn’t run the No. 8 – not that Childress’ grandson wants to drive the No. 3 in Cup.

Dillon is the only driver I can see making his Cup debut in a No. 3 car. Actually, I’m all for it and hope it happens in the near future.

That’s my opinion. I’m interested in yours.

 

For more of Candice Smith visit http://chief187.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Random Thoughts On NASCAR 2012 – Part Two

To finish what I started, here are more thoughts about some of the competitors and teams as the beginning of the 2012 NASCAR gordoSprint Cup season at Daytona looms.

Jeff Gordon: Well, those “Wonderboy” days are long gone and I think that when it comes to another championship, the fifth of his career, more than a few folks have suggested it won’t happen.

Gordon hasn’t been the dynamo he once was – he won 33 races in three years when he was a kid, but only four in the last four seasons – let’s not forget he’s made the Chase and finished among the top 10 in points in every year but one since the “playoff” began in 2004.

For five of the last six years he’s been overshadowed by teammate Jimmie Johnson. But then, so has everybody else.

To me, there’s no doubt Gordon can win another championship. His skills haven’t eroded and let’s remind ourselves that he still drives for Hendrick Motorsports, which has long since proven its title-winning savvy.

But I personally believe – note I said personally – that Gordon, who will be 40 years old in August, might have adjusted his priorities.

He’s now the father of two children and I believe that any man who becomes a dad and wants to be fully dedicated to the care, health and welfare of his children often looks at his career differently.

He sometimes reaches the conclusion that, however and whenever possible, family must come first.

Which certainly does not mean Gordon won’t try his best in every race. But it does mean that he won’t make the kind of sacrifices he once did to achieve his goals.

It’s just no longer that important. Besides, Gordon has already carved his name into NASCAR lore and on the list for certain Hall of Fame membership.

Frankly, if he’s still racing at, say, age 45 I would be very, very surprised.

 

Denny Hamlin: He beat himself up pretty good throughout 2011 after losing the 2010 title to Johnson by 39 points after Hamlin won eight races that season, a personal best and tops among all competitors.

Last year, he won once, barely made the Chase and finished ninth in the final standings. That was quite a meltdown and Hamlin admitted he sometimes struggled emotionally.

I am no sports psychologist – word was one counseled Hamlin – but I would suggest to the Virginian that the best thing he can do is put 2011 behind him. Then compete this season with the fire of a man with something to prove.

My thinking is that Hamlin now has someone who can help him, perhaps immensely.ham

His new crew chief is Darian Grubb, who served as Tony Stewart’s pit boss last year but was, inexplicably to some, dismissed even though his boss won five races in the Chase and his third career title.

I can assure you Grubb was dealt an emotional blow. And I believe he’s going to be determined to perform at his best in 2012, if for no other reason than to prove his worth – and, yes, mostly to Stewart Haas Racing.

The union between Hamlin and Grubb is one that likely involves two men who have resolve and something to prove.

That’s a very powerful combination. And do not be surprised if it brings powerful results.

Richard Petty Motorsports: In many ways it is difficult to see the name of stock car racing’s once and forever “king” attached to an organization that has been beset with financial problems – and is a mere shadow of what Petty Enterprises once was.

But RPM has managed to survive and again will be part of the NASCAR landscape in 2012.

However, logic dictates that competitively, it’s not likely to do all that much. If nothing else, it can’t match the resources enjoyed by other organizations.

And, to be honest, its two drivers aren’t going to be listed as favorites to win any race.

Well, Marcos Ambrose will get due attention at any road course event since he won his first career Cup race at Watkins Glen in 2011.

Not sure Aric Almirola, the team’s new driver, will get much notice of any kind. This is nothing against him at all. Rather, it’s just that he’s had only 36 career starts with six different teams and earned only one finish among the top five.

He may well be a top competitor in the future, and but the future isn’t now, is it?

My thinking is that if Almirola takes advantage of his new opportunity and can put up a few good numbers, and Ambrose wins at least one oval track race and finds his way into the Chase, it will be a banner season for RPM.

A.J. Allmendinger and Kasey Kahne: Allmendinger, who raced with RPM in 2011, got the ride at Penske Racing. He replaced Kurt Busch.

Allmendinger is now with a proven winner and has the best opportunity he’s ever had to win his first Cup race and make the Chase.

I think he knows that. And it certainly helps that he won the 24 Hours of Daytona. No, it’s not a NASCAR race, but victory of any kind boosts a driver’s confidence and, in Allmendinger’s case, indicates that Penske may have made a very good decision.

Kahne is now with Hendrick Motorsports and he has, rightfully so, gushed about his excitement over his new opportunity.

Why would he not? He’s been without a victory for three seasons and, despite that, Hendrick thought enough of him and his ability to sign him as Mark Martin’s replacement.

What we have here are two guys who have been afforded opportunities of which they could probably only dream.

When competitors get the chance to improve their status and competitiveness – and ultimately their careers – that is exactly what they should strive to do.

Which, I think, is what Allmendinger and Kahne intend to do.

I think it will be very interesting to see how they fare this season.

Richard Childress Racing: I think it is better team, or should at least be so, than it has displayed in recent seasons.

Kevin Harvick has maintained his status as multiple race winner and championship contender. He won four times and finished third in points last year.

But that level of performance has not been maintained throughout the entire organization.

For example, few would have imagined that in 2011, Jeff Burton would sink to 20th in points with only five finishes among the top 10.

I realize that not every organization can always have all its teams win races or even make the Chase – although that’s happened.

However, I do think RCR can, and should, perform better. I’m not alone.

If nothing else, just ask Childress himself.

I’m done for now and thank you for your indulgence. Your thoughts are, as always, welcome.

 

Busch Fulfills A Role NASCAR Needs: The Villain

Quite frankly, I’m glad Kyle Busch is who he is, at least in competition, and that he’s a part of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing.

No, really.

Yes, I know there are many fans who don’t care for Busch for reasons with which I suspect you are all too familiar.

But while I don’t want to come right out and say Busch is good for NASCAR – I’m not sure a guy who goes 80 mph over the speed limit on a public highway ever is – he at least provides a fan and media lightning rod, something the sport can always use.

This might be considered old school thinking, but I happen to believe that NASCAR needs a villain. It has to have someone whose words, actions or both, cause people to align against him.

It’s like one of those grade-B movie westerns of the 1940s. There was always the bad guy who was usually dressed in black who was booed and performed dastardly deeds until the hero, in white, brought him to justice amid cheers.

NASCAR needs someone whom fans can boo and vilify. It needs someone who performs perceived dastardly deeds on the track. It needs someone who radiates arrogance and a cocky attitude that make us want to slap his face off.

Busch fits all the requirements. And as NASCAR’s reigning bad boy he’s certainly created more interest in the sport – if for no other reason than fans are always eager to see him get his comeuppance, if possible.

That’s one reason a heckuva lot of folks were pleased when Richard Childress – who had a bellyful of Busch – tattooed the Joe Gibbs Racing driver after the truck race at Kansas.

Throughout its history, NASCAR has always been more fun when it has at least one smug competitor who wears the black hat.

There have been many such characters over the years but perhaps the two most prominent are Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt.

In the 1970s, Waltrip, long hair, sideburns and all, broke into racing when it was dominated by a small handful of guys who won, it seemed, nearly all of the races.

Waltrip, sure of himself, declared he could beat those guys. He said so to the media every chance he got.

Fans thought this was sacrilege. How dare this kid fail to show the proper respect for Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and the other admired stars of the day?

They wanted to see their heroes teach this upstart a thing or two – and cheered mightly every time they did.

But Waltrip never missed a step. He parlayed his villainy into a successful career. He was self-promoting, at ease and glib with the media and seemed to revel in the fans’ disdain.

He’d hear the boos at driver introductions and then, as the years passed, go out and beat the old-line heroes more times than not.

Which, by the way, didn’t sit well with them. Given his challenge to their dominance, actions and personality, Waltrip wasn’t exactly No. 1 on the competitors’ hit parade.

Yarborough is credited with giving Waltrip the nickname “Jaws” because of his “mouthiness.”

As reviled as Waltrip was at the start of his career, in time he became accepted and even well-respected. That’s because he could back up his words with achievement on the track. He said he would win and he did.

When he came on the scene, Earnhardt never declared he would win. It wasn’t his mouth that put him at odds with fans and fellow competitors.

It was his style of driving.

Earnhardt quickly established himself as perhaps the most aggressive driver on the track. He had no problem grinding into or bumping other competitors to move them out of his way.

Many times that created problems – yes, Earnhardt caused plenty of wrecks – that did nothing to endear the Kannapolis, N.C., native to fans, competitors and NASCAR.

As much as the rough-and-tumble Earnhardt was liked by fans who thought he was the embodiment of what a stock car driver should be, he was reviled by others who felt he was nothing but a menace on the track.

Earnhardt never offered any excuses. He said his driving style was cultivated during his youth, when he saw his father Ralph go head-to-head, with no quarter asked, against others in the bull rings.

As it was for Watlrip, Earnhardt earned fan support and respect with deeds. He won races and championships without sacrificing who he was or his style of driving.

He became “The Intimidator” and an icon.

It’s far too early to tell if Busch will eventually earn fan respect and, for the moment, hey, who cares anyway?

But Busch already shares a trait with fellow villains Waltrip and Earnhardt: He can drive a race car.

Like the bad boys before him Busch has immense talent, something he’s already proven and cannot be denied. He’s won in nearly everything he’s raced and will soon be a part of the NASCAR record book.

No doubt this fuels his cockiness. It also increases the disdain fans have for him because it means this villain clearly has the ability to get the best of their heroes. That doesn’t sit too well, does it?

Don’t misunderstand what is meant here. None of this is intended to promote Busch or get anyone to change their opinion of him. Hardly.

He is who he is, which is, right now, NASCAR’s bad boy – and he knows it.

For the sport to have a bad boy, a villain who polarizes fans and media alike, is a good thing.

It makes things all that more interesting – and even fun.

 

Childress, Busch: You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet


The frustration that’s flowing through the Cup garage these days has far more to do with how competitive it is than Kyle Busc’s behavior. This is the most competitive season yet and Dale Earnhardt, Jr is on the rise. You couldn’t cut the tension with a knife. http://www.motorsportsunplugged.com

Childress Adds Busch To His Trophy Room

Richard Childress has fought long and hard through the years to build what is now a powerhouse team. He represents that type of competitor who deserves the accolades that go along with overcoming the hardships of the past. He has also fought with his fists more than a few times as well.

He’s no saint having duked it out several times in the old days, particularly during his “Non-Sponsorship” era struggling as an owner/driver. Is it his success as a team owner that’s given him a reprieve from harsher punishment from NASCAR? Or is it the contributions he’s made to NASCAR, the sport and the charitable community? Or, as I believe, is it the fact that NASCAR has had one of the biggest publicity runs outside Danica Patrick in recent memory?

 

NASCAR should have suspended Childress for an out and out assault, but they didn’t. They fined him the equivalent of a wink and a public wrist slapping. 150,000 dollars is a huge amount to almost anyone reading this, but to Childress, probably less than the watch he removed before getting to Busch.

 

Before you break out the torches and pitchforks let it be known that Kyle Busch got what virtually every person in the garage area wanted to give him. It doesn’t matter whether he instigates the negative events around him or not, he’s always at the center of controversy and seems unaffected by it. It happens, it’s never pretty, and then he climbs in anything he’s racing and wins as if nothing ever went down. That’s how he rolls. Unfortunately, it will catch up to him. Equally unfortunate is that a prominent team owner calculates his reprisal and then executes his revenge strategy with surgical precision.

 

It’s not difficult to see that NASCAR didn’t suspend Childress when they most certainly would a driver on a lessor team. The publicity surrounding the event has taken top headlines in virtually every motorsport outlet and even the mainstream media. It will have the “Train Wreck” effect inducing people to watch or otherwise be interested in seeing what happens next. Count that as a plus in NASCAR’s column. Will it tarnish NASCAR’s standing in the world of motorsports creating a sideshow atmosphere? Doubtful. NASCAR could not have paid for better publicity. But there is a caveat.

If NASCAR truly wants to say that fighting has no place in NASCAR or its “boys have at it” policy, then it must enforce stern penalties that apply to all, regardless of status. If NASCAR feels that this behavior is acceptable in the sport, then they need to come out and say as much. If not, then punish offenders more effectively than they did Richard Childress.

Personally, I have to say I think it’s pretty funny, not the aftermath but the incident. Richard Childress is one 65 year old that you don’t want to go off on you. Obviously he’s not afraid to fistfight and he’s got some damn big guns and I don’t mean his arms.

I wonder if Kyle would let Richard have a cast of his face to add to the other game trophies in his room.

 

Kyle Busch Brings His Face To A Fistfight

 

It may not be news that Richard Childress unloaded several punches on kyle Busch after the Friday truck race in Kansas, but it’s still funny. Childress apparently calculated the punishment as he removed his jewelry before he got to Busch…fines to follow. http://www.motorsportsunplugged.com

Nationwide and Trucks to Nashville for Easter

 

The NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Camping WOrld Truck Series head into Nashville this weekend while the Sprint Cup series takes a weekend off. Which one of these series is really healthier and gives the upcoming drivers a better taste of what’s ahead for them? www.motorsportsunplugged.com/NASCAR

 

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