Kyle Busch's move to join Stewart at Gibbs intriguing
Posted: Tuesday August 7, 2007 2:07PM; Updated: Tuesday August 7, 2007 2:07PM
"Kyle Busch, he's the one guy that's probably going to hurt somebody out there. He's what we like to call a bird with no feathers."
"[Tony Stewart's] trying to kill me."
"On the track? [My relationship with Tony is] probably not very good. But as far as off the race track, once he takes his helmet off, he's a completely different person. You're able to talk to him and be receptive of him. It's good to be able to have that relationship off the race track, I guess."
There's no arguing that Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart are two of the most -- shall we say, unique -- personalities on the Nextel Cup circuit. Neither is afraid to say what he really feels. They let their talent do the talking on the track, while their persona drives the media, other teams and NASCAR officials crazy off it. In between, they've spent a decent portion of their careers trading more nasty barbs than Republicans and Democrats.
Now, they'll have to work together as teammates.
The news that Busch, 22, will join Joe Gibbs Racing next year raises more than a few eyebrows. It's not because of the driver he's replacing; the writing was on the wall for J.J. Yeley and the No. 18 car at Gibbs for quite sometime now. No, the skepticism comes from Busch aligning himself with the one organization that would appear to lack the ingredient he sorely needs to be consistently successful.
Just take a look at Busch's other options. At Dale Earnhardt Inc. -- an opportunity both colleague Lars Anderson and I felt Busch would take -- he had an chance to be tutored by one of the most respected veterans in the sport: Mark Martin. As the new fourth man in an organization on the rise, Busch would have clearly stood out as the team's new No. 1 driver. He'd have done so with an older, wiser veteran leader who not only likes Busch, but also has openly stated he would relish the opportunity to cultivate Busch's talent.
Even if DEI wasn't for Busch -- and it wasn't for lack of trying -- he could have landed on his feet elsewhere. At Richard Childress Racing he would have been put under the wing of team leader and role model Jeff Burton, ironically the latest in a long line of drivers miffed at Busch's on-track aggressiveness. But instead, Busch has chosen to align himself with ... Stewart?
Stewart man is one of the best drivers ever to put on a NASCAR uniform, but when it comes to behaving nicely in public, even he will admit he's hardly the best teacher. And based on the way Busch has conducted himself in the wake of his release from Hendrick -- openly complaining about anything and everything, to the point he needed to issue an internal apology to his teammates last month -- he needs an injection of veteran maturity.