Kurt and Kyle. Kyle and Kurt.
Independently they have made magic on the track and mayhem in their careers. They are volatile, boorish, immature, outrageous, and devastatingly talented. Their accomplishments on the track, however, have paled considerably to their behaviors off.
Now the elder brother Kurt is trying to rebound from his recent (mutual) dismissal from Penske with a NASCAR Sprint Cup ride with James Finch’s lesser-tier Phoenix Racing, running both Nationwide and Sprint Cup. What else does he do to find work? Hitch his talents to brother Kyle’s Nationwide team to split the season.
Many see this move as incredibly stupid, citing the brothers’ inability to play nice with others, including one another. They say the union will self-destruct and no good will come from the pairing.
I disagree. Family may be exactly what these boys need to repair their images, get back on track and start winning the war of public opinion.
I remember clearly a time when Kurt was the only Busch brother driving in NASCAR. When being interviewed about his talents Kurt smiled slyly and said, “If you think I’m good, wait until you see my brother.”
This foreshadowing showed an older brother’s respect for his younger sibling and a bond that only family produces.
Once Kyle earned a ride in Cup, I distinctly recall him winning in his native Las Vegas in 2009.
It charmed me to see brother Kurt and their mother join Kyle in Victory Lane. Family, so much a part of NASCAR and which is so appealing to me, was strongly present and, obviously, important to the brothers Busch.
I am a staunch believer that all people can change. Kurt and Kyle have worn their snottiness and intolerance as badges – if not the armor they wear into battle.
I hoped that after Kurt lost his ride at Roush and Kyle his at Hendrick, the two would mature a little bit.
And, at first, it seemed they tried. Once Kyle got married to the former Samantha Sarcinella I was certain he’d make a strong run for the championship in 2011. Alas, I was wrong. But I am not closing the door to the idea that both of these men can change for the better.
Dale Earnhardt once told a young Jeff Gordon, “At least they’re making noise. It’s when they stop making noise that you know something’s wrong.”
Kurt and Kyle still garner huge attention, passionate responses from the crowd and are polarizing. But Penske could no longer stomach the elder Busch’s tirades and lack of control. Finch has already said that if Kurt had behaved with him the way he did with Penske, “He would have gotten his ass beat on pit road.”
It was just a matter of time before Joe Gibbs would be forced to let Kyle go if his judgment didn’t improve. I have to believe that such facts will alter the drivers’ behavior.
A new girlfriend for Kurt and a savvy wife for Kyle may be what soothe the savage beasts that reside within the brothers Busch.
I’m hoping that for their sake, and for that of NASCAR fans as well, the Busch brothers can harness their ambition, talent, brattiness and rage and do what they truly do best – win races.
Perhaps a back-to-basics season for the two drivers will refocus and re-energize their efforts. Perhaps Kurt can parlay this season into a Chase contention and Kyle can, finally, make a decent run at the championship.