Kyle Busch’s Ultimate Act Of Selfishness Should Cost Him

Over the weekend in Fontana, defending NASCAR champion Kyle Busch committed the ultimate act of selfishness. This week he will find out what his actions will cost him and, if NASCAR has a backbone, it should cost him dearly.

It was just over a year ago when the tide in NASCAR finally began to turn in favor of Kyle Busch. For years Busch was amongst the most hated drivers in NASCAR. The passion with which his fans loved him was only matched by the passion of those who disliked him. During this time Busch did little to help his cause with NASCAR fans. Busch’s outspoken nature, his aggressiveness on the track and his actions in situations where things didn’t go his way all turned NASCAR fans against him.

However, all of that changed in February of 2015 when Busch hit the inside wall at Daytona during an Xfinity Series race.

The result of that wreck was a broken leg and a broken foot. Busch would not only miss the start of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, but he would miss the first 11 races of the year. During those 11 races the temperature of the NASCAR world changed and so did the personality of Busch. Fans blamed NASCAR for Busch’s injuries since he crashed into a wall not protected by a SAFER barrier. While recovering Busch did and said all of the right things. Oh, and he and his wife had their first child during that time as well.

While still recovering from his injury, Busch held a press conference where he walked us through the wreck. He talked about the moments before and after it happened and he opened up in a way that most fans had never seen before. He spoke about his passion for racing and how he wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to race again. Busch spoke about returning to NASCAR and his desire to have the opportunity to win races and make his way into the Chase.

By the time Busch returned to NASCAR following the All-Star Race, the majority of the NASCAR world was behind him. Sure, he might not have been your favorite driver, but many were happy to see him back and hopeful that he would find success. Of course we all know the success that he found and the wins that came along with it. As Busch won races, made the Chase, pushed through the Chase and into the final-four; he continued to say and do all of the right things. By the time he was crowned champion in Miami, Busch had successfully done a 180 in the eyes of many NASCAR fans.

That was in November of 2015 and now in March of 2016 it appears as though Busch has destroyed any and all credibility that he had built among those outside of his immediate fan base.

On Saturday Busch ran in the Xfinity Series race in Fontana. For Busch it was his fourth Xfinity Series race of the season (he skipped the opener in Daytona) and he was looking for his fourth consecutive win in the series. Saturday in Fontana was a lot like the previous Xfinity Series events in 2016 in that Busch led a lot of laps and was easily the car to beat. Busch appeared to be on his way to that fourth consecutive victory when he had a tire go down on the last lap and wound up finishing in second place after almost holding off Austin Dillon to win the race on only three tires.

In the moments following his second-place finish, Busch made what will easily be considered the most selfish decision of his professional career. After not winning the race, Busch took to his radio to complain about NASCAR not throwing the caution for his tire issue and then he proceeded to say that NASCAR was fixing races.

Debris all over the race track and they don’t throw a yellow. I’m just so pleased with you, NASCAR. Thanks. Y’all are awesome. Fixing races. How about…

Busch continued the above rant on his radio but the rest of the audio was not clear.

I understand that Busch was not happy that he did not win the race and I understand the “heat of the moment” argument, but in this situation there isn’t a single excuse that is acceptable for Busch’s actions. On Saturday, in the moments after that race, Kyle Busch put himself and winning an Xfinity Series race above the sport for which he is the reigning and defending champion.

In sports disagreeing with calls is common. When a call is made there is usually one side that is happy and one side that is not. Busch was unhappy with the lack of a caution and he has a right to feel that NASCAR should have thrown it. I for one would argue that he shouldn’t feel that way though. After all, Busch did continue racing despite having the tire issue and he did not make contact with the wall or wreck or do anything else that would warrant a caution. Heck, if Austin Dillon had been another second or two behind Busch, Busch would have won that race with only three tires up. Moreover, arguing not getting a caution is the same as those who argue when NASCAR throws phantom cautions and last time I checked Busch has never apologized for winning a race with an assist late due to one of those phantom cautions.

Cautions aside, there is a big difference between arguing a call and insinuating that the sport you race for is cheating and fixing their events. Arguing a call is when you feel an official had a choice to make and he made the wrong one, the latter is the equivalent of saying that the official is actively conspiring to make sure that one team (or in this case) one driver wins over the other. On Saturday Busch went with the latter because he was upset that he finished in second place and not in first place.

On Saturday Kyle Busch put himself above NASCAR because of an Xfinity Series race. A race in a series in which he is not running for a championship and usually dominates against lesser cars and drivers on a weekly basis. This was not Busch racing for a win in NASCAR’s premiere series, this was not Busch racing for a win in a race that has Chase implications or could be the difference between him winning or losing a championship. Instead, this was Busch racing in a lower series (a series that most NASCAR fans don’t care about) in which now instead of winning 12 races this season, he is now only going to win 11.

Note: While the above scenarios in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series might warrant more of a negative reaction out of Busch, not of them (including if it cost him a championship) would suffice as acceptable scenarios to act in the matter that he did.

Kyle Busch is the current reigning and defending NASCAR champion who is coming off of one of the greatest and most memorable championship runs in all of sports after winning the title last season. NASCAR fans (and drivers) often times throw around the phrase “that’s sure acting like a champion” in a sarcastic tone when a former champion does something they don’t care for. In the majority of those situations it’s nothing more than a case of sour grapes and such comments should be ignore. However, this situation is not one of those times where such comments should be ignored.

Busch came into 2016 as one of the faces of NASCAR, he came into the season as a champion. When you reach the pinnacle of success that Busch reached in 2015 it almost goes without saying that you should know better than to put yourself in a situation like this. Kyle Busch is in no way bigger than NASCAR, his comments on Saturday certainly make it seem like he feels that way but I can assure you that he isn’t. In fact, no single driver is bigger than NASCAR. Sure, if Josh Wise said this it might not be such a hot topic, but Cole Whitt is not Kyle Busch. If the quarterback on the Patriots practice squad accuses the NFL of fixing games it will make some noise and send a few ripples through the league. If Tom Brady comes out and says the same thing, it could potentially have a lasting negative impact on the NFL. Busch is a heck of a lost closer to the level of Brady in NASCAR than he is the practice squad QB which means that his words carry weight and what he says means something.

Go ahead and name for me a great driver ….

Regardless of who you named I can tell you that they never publicly disgraced the sport the way that Busch did this weekend. Kevin Harvick has run second almost 20 times in the last 40 races. In those 40 races there have been late cautions and non-cautions and multiple restarts and through it all Harvick has never once accused NASCAR of fixing races. Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart are two of NASCAR’s more colorful personalities and both have said some interesting things in their careers but neither has ever accused NASCAR of cheating and fixing the outcomes of their races.

In case you might have forgot, Kyle Busch is a NASCAR driver, which means that he actually know for a fact that NASCAR does not fix their races. Busch knows that there isn’t a lottery every week at the track that decides who wins and who doesn’t win. Busch knows that it isn’t his turn to win one week and Matt Kenseth’s turn to win the next. Busch is aware of all of this and yet he still said what he said.

Not only did he make the comments about NASCAR being fixed but he then blew off all of his post-race media obligations. NASCAR’s reigning and defending champion blew off his media obligations following one of the best finishes of the season (a race in which he almost with a flat tires) because he was unhappy that he finished in second and not in first. Kyle Busch blew off his media obligations and accused NASCAR of cheating and fixing races because he finished second (in a lower series in which he is not running for a title and is more or less running in because of his love for racing) and not first.

Jim Utter of Motorsports.com talked on Sunday about how NASCAR has a few things in the rule book when it comes to the comments that Busch made.

NASCAR’s code of conduct, which was updated in February, calls for fines of between $10,000 and $50,000 and/or probation for comments that disparage the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership.

An accusation of “fixing races” could certainly fall under that category.

On either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week NASCAR will announce if there will be any penalties for Busch’s actions. The most that it appears NASCAR can do is hit him with a $50,000 fine and place him on probation. I’ll never be one to say that $50,000 is chump change but when you made more than $10 million in 2015, it’s hard not to view it like that. As far as probation goes, well that will only have an impact if Busch has himself another issue down the road.

When an athlete does what Busch did I believe that a message needs to be sent, one that will make it clear to others that this behavior isn’t acceptable. To me, $50,000 and probation isn’t cutting it. Busch should have to sit for a race. I don’t care if it’s a Cup race or an Xfinity race but either way he should be parked for one race. When the defending champion of a sport makes comments like Busch did, it should be made known by the sport that there isn’t any place for such things to be said. NASCAR isn’t going to sit Busch (and in all honesty they might not be able to even if they wanted to) but it doesn’t change the fact that they should.

Then again, if NASCAR is fixed, why does Busch even want to keep racing? And for all of those in Rowdy Nation who support him and share his stance; one has to wonder why you continue to watch a sport where the competition isn’t real but instead it’s some predetermined outcome.

Words matter and that is something that NASCAR champion Kyle Busch needs to know and understand. There is also a lot more to being a champion than simply winning a trophy or a race; and that also is something that Busch needs to figure out and understand. In the meantime we are right back where we were before the start of the 2015 NASCAR season. Busch is once again the selfish villain that is disliked by the majority of the sport and the only difference between then and now is that he added the word champion to his résumé.