This past weekend we saw yet another track dominated by none other than Kyle Busch as he swept both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at Bristol.Ã‚Â For those of you out there reading this who are members of the “Anyone but Kyle Busch Club” is was rather disappointing to watch as he lead most of the laps on Saturday in the Nationwide race and then took the lead a few times on Sunday and holding off Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson at the end for the win.Ã‚Â Now it is not the first time Busch hasÃ‚Â swept a weekend, nor will it be the last if he has anything to say about it.Ã‚Â What intrigued me however was not the fact that he got out front and won like he has done many times in the past, much to my dismay, and that of my family who are rooting for Dale Jr and Tony Stewart, but rather how in every interview I saw him in he was nice, cordial, gentlemanly if you will.Ã‚Â He apologized to other drivers he made contact with, he thanked his sponsors for his contract extension, he even smiled without a hint of his usual sneer that we’ve all grown to love to hate.
So where has the real Kyle Busch gone?Ã‚Â Will the rude, explosive and often maligned Kyle Busch make his return if things don’t go just the way he wants?Ã‚Â Or is this Kyle Busch here to stay?Ã‚Â The only thing that really changed for him during the off season was going from a single man to getting married, a change that happens in most men to varying degrees, but never to the extreme we are witnessing here.Ã‚Â Did body snatchers take his soul on his honeymoon or something?
Take this post race comment for example.Ã‚Â Notice there’s none of the usual bitterness we’ve seen in the past, none of the angry young man that would stomp around after losing, and none of the “Neener Neener”Ã‚Â attitude one would expect after his previous childlike behaviour.
“It was a great pit stop there on that last run down pit road.Ã‚Â They gave me a great job there so I get out and have track position I wanted and the lane I wanted to restart on the outside.
“That gave me a little bit easier job, instead of having to pass some of those guys. It would have been interesting, for sure. Carl tried to make it interesting — he gave me a little bit of a shot there. But I kept it straight somehow this year, didn’t have any fallback from 2008 (referring back to when Edwards won after moving Busch).”
I half expected him to be rubbing his 10 000th lap lead in the faces of the fans who have booed him soundly at every track he has won at.Ã‚Â But it just wasn’t there.Ã‚Â Perhaps it is just too early in the season for him to be his usual hot head self… but only time will tell, and the hot mid summers temperatures both under the hood and inside the car.
Dale Earnhardt Jr is proving to his fans and everyone else that his plan for consistency and his move to the Steve Letarte crewed team, has been good for him.Ã‚Â Having run up in the top 10 in the last 2 races and earning an 11th place this past week at Bristol, Jr has moved himself into the top 10 in points for the first time in a while, despite starting the season with a disappointing 24th place finish at Daytona.Ã‚Â Last year at this time he was mired in the midfield and never gained any traction to move towards the top 10 all season.Ã‚Â Yet here we are only 4 races in and he has shown consistent performance all around.Ã‚Â Top 10’s will lead to confidence regained, and confidence regained will eventually lead to wins.Ã‚Â That will be good for everyone involved in the sport, for as we all know, Dale Jr has the most loyal fan base in the series, and probably in all of Motorsport combined.Ã‚Â The Jr Nation has been behind him win or lose for his entire career and most have never lost faith that Jr can return to his winning ways.
What does this mean for Jr?Ã‚Â Well without a doubt this is the biggest confidence booster that a driver could ask for.Ã‚Â Running out front and finishing top 10 would give any normal mortal confidence, but this is Dale Jr we’re talking about here, and after the performance of the past few seasons his fans are rallying to him like never before.Ã‚Â Have a look on Facebook on any given weekend and search Dale Jr’s facebook presence where 861 513 fans have liked his page.Ã‚Â NASCAR took 3 years to get to a million, Jr’s presence has only been up for a little over a year.Ã‚Â Before that there were fan pages dedicated to hims, Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr being the largest with an additional following of over 344 000 +.Ã‚Â Now there’s bound to be over lap in the fan base but no on else in NASCAR has a following like that to cheer them on every week.Ã‚Â Broadcasters have been accused of “turning up the fan microphones” whenever Jr. takes the lead.Ã‚Â All it takes is attending one race where he accomplishes that to know there’s no need for the broadcasters to try a gimick like that, it’s for real.
So with 4 races down and 22 to go before the chase, things are playing out a lot different than the sooth sayers and prognosticators have predicted.Ã‚Â Next week we’re off to Fontana California and the Auto Club Speedway.Ã‚Â I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.