In the mid 70's a driver appeared on the NASCAR circuit that had only one thing on his mind, and that was to win. This driver learned real quick that television had a great impact on his competition and his popularity. So everytime he saw a camera he would come up, interrupt another driver if he had too, to tell the world that he was the best and he was going to win the race. He even went so far as letting his competition know if they got in his way he would move them out of the way on his way to the checkered flag. This driver became very popular with a certain sector of the fans but was soon hated by most because of his mouth. This driver of course was Darrell Waltrip.
In the early 80's another driver came along and although he didn't speak much he started winning races the same way as DW did. If someone was in his way he would move, crash, or do whatever it tood to win the race. This driver became very popular among those fans that did not like DW because he did not back down. Again, you know this driver his name Dale Earnhardt Senior.
Now fast forward to today, 2008. NASCAR had become basically bland the past few year, well since Dale Earnhardt Sr. Died at Daytona in 2001. Everything has been geared and all attention has been given to Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmy Johnson and of course Dale Earnhardt Jr. The only bit of controversy was basically when Tony Stewart had a scuffle with the press. Then a lot of the fans hollared because Tony wasn't like Jeff, JJ or Dale Jr.
We all know that Dale Earnhardt Jr is also the most popular Driver and has a legion of fans, in fact the press has Nicknamed his fans "Junior Nation" the problem with the "Nation" in my opinion is the press has messaged it so much that some, not all, of the fans feel they own the track when they show up. Well, again in my opinion, this is starting to catch up to the rest of the fans. Most fans are getting tired of the beer cans being thrown on the track, they are getting tired of the middle finger being given to a driver because he passed Jr. or bumped Junior a year ago, or for thinking they can get rowdy drunk and do as they please.
In comes Kyle Busch. Kyle is a throw back in a way to the Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt, He just wants to win. He doesn't care if he has any fans, he doesn't care if the "Nation" throws beer at him after the race, all he cares about is winning. It doesn't matter how he wins, if he outruns his opponets or if he just pushes them out of the way or if he drives the car in deep under another driver and if the other driver trys to stay with him or pinch him down to gain an advantage, well lets just say 8 tires are better than 4. No Kyle wants to win and when the press gets in his face and asks him what he thinks or how he feels about the fans who are booing him, his response is they can hate me all they want as long as I'm winning.
To me this is what NASCAR has been lacking, the typical "Bad Boy". NASCAR kept Tony Stewart down for so long that his so called Bad Boy image is nothing compared to Kyle Busch's. No Kyle has a "They can Hate Me" Attitude and what is it getting him? It is getting him popularity. Prior to the start of this season, I doubt that Kyle was among the top 25 most popular driver. But after going to the 600 and seeing the lines at his souviner stand it is clear that Kyle is become very popular with the fans. Why, because he is pissing off the "NATION". Just like when Dale Earnhardt broke onto the scene and started to rough up ole DW and his fans, Kyle is roughing up the "NATION" and this is getting the fans excited. Kyle has single handledly brought much needed attention to NASCAR this year with his "Bad Boy" attitude. He is a driver that you will either like or you will hate but there won't be a middle ground like a lot of drivers.
And what makes this fued so great is that it is between Kyle and the "Nation" not Kyle vs Junior or Kyle vs HMS. No its Kyle verses the Nation. Kyle upon introduction is now taking a bow to the Nation, When he wins he wants to get up in front of the Nation and hold his hands in victory hoping to keep the crowd going. I started a poll on the Racing Message board about how people feel about Kyle and as of this writing it is about 40/60 in the votes of people liking him verse not liking or don't care one way or the other. I wish I had done the poll earlier as I would be willing to bet the numbers in favor of Kyle would have been a lot, lot less. I will admit that I didn't particularly like Kyle but after the incidient at Richmond and the outcry from the "NATION" over a racing incident and then to hear Kyle say they could "HATE ME" I was one of those that he has/is winning over.
One last note, If Kyle wasn't winning none of this would be happening, but the kid can drive and depending on his equipment he could be on top of this sport for a while.
So Kyle is good for NASCAR, he has interjected a new love hate among the fans, he is bring in viewers to the sport and he is reminding us old timers of those days when there always was a "Bad Boy" in the sport that the fans could love or hate. Welcome to the "Bad Boy" Club Kyle and lets hope your successful for a long time in your role, for NASCAR's sake.