I wish I'd watched some NASCAR growing up, because I'd like a little more historical context for the behavior of current-day drivers. I'm talking about Kyle Busch.
For those of you who don't know, Kyle Busch is NASCAR's current bad-boy/brat, though he'd cleaned up his behavior and image this year--at least until this weekend in Texas. That's when he was so angry at a competitor in the truck race, Ron Hornaday, Jr., for real or imagined bumping (over the past four weeks, to hear Busch tell it), that Busch turned Hornaday into the wall. Hard. Under caution. Ending Hornaday's chance for a championship this year.
NASCAR, for all of its vagueness about where the line between acceptable and unacceptable was in their stated policy of "boys, have at it" (yes, they made the pornography statement of "we'll know it when we see it"), acted decisively, parking Busch in the middle of the truck race and for the other two races this weekend. Ending his own hopes of a Sprint Cup championship.
You all know I'm no Kyle Busch fan. But here's my question for those who have followed the sport for longer than I have. How do his bad-boy antics compare to bad-boys of decades past?
I came to the sport after the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr., so I can only interpret the myth, legend, and stories left behind. But from everything I hear about him, he wasn't a nice-guy on track. Quite the opposite. So how is it he was so beloved and Kyle Busch is not? Was Dale Senior—the man was called The Intimidator, for Pete's sake—a more fair, less erratic driver? I've heard tell he could be as ruthless as anyone on the track. How much did Senior anger half the NASCAR Nation on any given weekend? Would he be as universally beloved if he were still alive?
And who were the other bad boys in NASCAR's history? Are there any who got drummed out of the sport for bad behavior? Is there anyone Kyle Busch can learn from?