Kyle Busch And Dale Earnhardt Share Common Thread


What do Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt have in common? Well, it really depends on who you ask. Kyle Busch fans will quickly compare Busch’s brash racing style and dominance to the late great Dale Earnhardt, while fans of The Intimidator will likely shrug Busch off as a whiny little brat who will never achieve what Earnhardt has during his tenure in the sport.

Kyle Busch’s car after his accident at Daytona International Speedway Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

One thing that makes both drivers similar, is there response to injuries behind the wheel. We all remember Dale Earnhardt’s crash in 1996 at Talladega, where he hit the wall head on at 200MPH, flipped multiple times and then was hit in the roof area after coming to a rest right in front of oncoming traffic.

Many thought this wreck would end Earnhardt’s career, especially when it was discovered that Earnhardt had suffered a broken collarbone, Sternum and shoulder Blade. Fortunately, The Intimidator was able to push on, grab a pull at Watkins Glen two weeks later, and eventually finish fourth in the final points standings, despite not ever fully resting from his injuries.

Earnhardt struggled the following season as well, going winless and suffering from very bad luck throughout the year. In one instance, Earnhardt blacked out during a race at Darlington, causing him to hit the wall head one. He later complained of double vision while trying to reach his pit stall. A relief driver was quickly put in and Earnhardt was taken to a medical center for evaluation. Despite the black out and declining health, Earnhardt was still cleared to race the very next week.

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The Intimidator finally claimed victory again in 1998, when he held off Bobby Labonte to win the first Daytona 500 of his career. Earnhardt then drove through pit road, where he was greeted by every crew member from every team to congratulate him on finally winning The 500. Earnhardt failed to capture another win that year and eventually finished eighth in points.

While Earnhardt never did win another championship after his accident at Talladega, he did finally get his collarbone surgically repaired before the 2000 race season. This led to Earnhardt claiming the final two wins of his career at Atlanta and Talladega Super Speedway. He also finished second in the points that season, being denied of his eight championship by Bobby Labonte.

Fast forward to the start of the 2015 season and we see that Busch is in a very similar situation to that of Dale Earnhardt. Sure, Busch breaking both legs during The Xfinity race at Daytona wasn’t as severe as what Earnhardt’s suffered at Talladega in 1996, but one could still argue that the two wrecks could have ended both drivers’ careers prematurely.

Kyle Busch answering questions before his first race since his accident. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Fortunately for Busch, he returned to action two months later and even secured two Top-Ten finishes in The Sprint Cup Series. Not only that, he also captured a win in The Xfinity Series in his first race since his accident at Daytona.

While Busch has had some good luck since his return, he has also experienced a few setbacks during his comeback as well. One instance of this, was when he accidently ran into the back of lapped car, Brian Scott, while running in The Top-Ten.

Another incident that set Busch back in his quest to make The Chase was last week, when he got into the wall right after a restart at Michigan. It was later revealed that rain may have been falling on the track at the time and might have been the reason for Busch’s car coming out from under him so suddenly.

Good or bad luck aside, Busch is in the midst of doing something great in the sport of auto racing. He has had the best return of any driver returning from injury in recent memory. He may still need a win and a Top-25 finish in points to have any chance of doing what Earnhardt did in 1996, but with two top-ten’s already under his belt this season, he is certainly on the right track.