Observations, opinions and other thoughts on the NASCAR season

Observations, opinions and other thoughts on the NASCAR season

Anger Management

This wasn't how 2007 was supposed to turn out for Kyle Busch. The driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevy, who's widely regarded as one of the purest talents in NASCAR, entered this season primed for a breakout year. Not only was he driving for the best team in the Nextel Cup garage, he was also supposed to be a changed man. His notorious temper had gotten in more than his fair share of trouble over the years, and last season he had spent considerable time behind NASCAR's woodshed because of it.

The breaking point came after he wrecked at Charlotte in May of last year. While the race was still going on, he had climbed from his car and heaved his HANS device at the passing car of Casey Mears. NASCAR came down hard on him, fining him $50,000, docking him 25 driver points and putting him on probation until Dec. 31. Afterwards, Busch promised to turn over a new leaf (albeit in his own, catty way). "There won't be a next time, because I know what the consequences are going to be," he said. "You just have to basically go the Carl Edwards route: 'Oh, gosh darn. We wrecked. We're just going to have come back and get 'em next week.'"

So much for promises. This season has seen Busch behaving just as petulantly as ever. After he won at Bristol, he climbed out of his Car of Tomorrow and told everybody how much it sucks. After he wrecked at Texas, he left the track in a huff without telling anybody, leaving his crew to watch Dale Earnhardt Jr. finish the race in the No. 5 car. That was all owner Rick Hendrick had to see to know that Busch hadn't changed a bit. It came as no surprise that after Hendrick signed Earnhardt to drive for him in 2008-forcing Busch out the door-he began to openly gripe about how teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson never supported him.

Soon, Busch will take his act somewhere else. Perhaps to RCR. Maybe to DEI. Whoever gets him will be getting an immense talent and can probably look forward to winning a championship or two. But that glory will come with a price.

I've always been skeptical of people who claim to have had life-changing experiences. They are certainly possible, but I don't think they're nearly as common as we want to believe they are. I'm sure when Busch signs with a new team, the news will come with promises that his bad behavior is a thing of the past. Take such vows with a grain of salt. Then wait a while. Sooner or later, Busch will live down to his reputation.

One event is not going to make Kyle Busch change his ways. In that respect, I think he's very human. The boy's got so much rage inside of him that bottling it up is probably the worst thing he can do. Give him time. Actually, give him lots of time. He'll grow up sooner or later. Then, there'll be no telling how good he could be.

sportsillustrated.cnn.com

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