Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is Kyle Busch the New Dale Earnhardt?

The Intimidator.  The Man In Black.  Two names that have become synonymous with one of NASCAR's greatest drivers, Dale Earnhardt.  Earnhardt had 76 victories and seven Sprint Cup Championships in his Hall of Fame career.  His legacy lives on, following his tragic death on the last lap in the 2001 Daytona 500.  Throughout his career, Earnhardt was a polarizing figure.  He was either loved or hated.  He wrecked numerous drivers for the win, and he could manhandle a car like no other driver.

Dale Earnhardt (Photo courtesy
Rowdy.  Wild Thing.  Two names that describe Kyle Busch.  Throughout Busch's career, he has been a very polarizing driver.  Many call him a punk because of his attitude on and off the track.  Busch has only been racing in NASCAR since 2001, but he already has impressive numbers; 104 NASCAR Wins, the 2009 Nationwide Series Championship, and the Nationwide Series Wins record.  Many people believe that comparing Busch to Dale Earnhardt is sacrilegious, but following Busch's amazing Budweiser Shootout performance, the comparison must be made.

Kyle Busch with wife Samantha on the grid at Daytona (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
 Earnhardt was one tough SOB on the track, but off the track he was a lovable prankster.  Busch is a hard-charging driver on the track, with a take-no-prisoners attitude during the race.  This has led to some scuffles with drivers.  In 2011 alone, Busch had run-ins with Kevin Harvick at Darlington and Ron Hornaday at Texas.  The result of the Hornaday altercation was a one-race suspension in the Cup Series, and his sponsor, M&M's, refused to be on the car for the rest of the season.

His off-track personality has not been much better.  The sometimes-immature Busch ran into some trouble last season, when he was cited for going 128 mph in a 45 mph zone.  This mistake led to a $1,000 fine and a loss of his license for 45 days.

Although he has had many mistakes along the way, many people forget that Busch is only 26 years old.  He began racing in the Truck Series in 2001, at the age of 16.  Busch is still maturing, and his driving seems to be getting better with age.  If he can keep his temper under control, he should become one of the best drivers to ever strap into a NASCAR stock car. 

Dale Earnhardt was a hero to many race fans, and he left a hole in the sport that has yet to be filled.  Maybe Busch can fill the hole that was left in the sport when Earnhardt died.  Many hate to hear Busch be compared to Earnhardt, but even fellow Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip is making the comparison when talking about Busch's Budweiser Shootout saves.  I believe that, in time, Kyle Busch will become as good, if not greater, than Dale Earnhardt was.

1 comment:

  1. Dale Earnhardt won seven championships in his career, the first only one year after earning Rookie of the Year. Kyle Busch has yet to string together a championship even though he wins several races a year and makes the Chase, he simply peters out.
    Perhaps getting out of the CWTS he can concentrate on winning a Cup, but Coach Gibbs was upset he didn't give up the NNS ride.
    If Kyle doesn't learn how to control his temper, work to fix the holes in his season, and keep the stamina to finish a 10-race Chase, he'll never be accurately compared to Dale Earnhardt. For me, he never will be.
    I'm not saying I don't think the man has talent, obviously he does, but that's far different than comparing him to a man of Dale Earnhardt's ilk who not only could win races but championships and his fan's collective hearts. That's extraordinarily rare.
    You are a very good writer, Bryan!