CONCORD, N.C. At NASCARs all-star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend, Kyle Busch got so angry after an on-track incident with teammate Denny Hamlin that he vowed over his radio that he would kill him.
Given a few days to think about it, is Busch sorry he said that?
Absolutely not, he said Thursday.
Thats why NASCAR needs Busch besides the fact that hes an extremely talented, 25-year-old driver who ranks No. 2 in Sprint Cup points.
Busch is unrepentant. He doesnt mind being a bad guy or getting booed in the pre-race introductions. He doesnt care that Hamlin who seethed later Thursday that Busch needed to grow up and stop creating needless drama clearly isnt his Facebook friend.
A simmering feud with another driver? Shoot, thats nothing for Busch.
Busch and his older brother Kurt (who won that same all-star race Saturday) once had a feud that went for much of the 2007 season. They barely spoke for months. It didnt get resolved until they both spent Christmas at their grandmothers house and made up for her sake.
Buschs on-air diatribe against Hamlin Saturday included these words: I swear to God, Im going to kill that (expletive). All his (expletive) fault! I had this race won! It was won!
Busch defended those comments Thursday as heat of the moment. He also said that while he wasnt joking about what he said at the time, he obviously wasnt going to hurt Hamlin.
With what? Busch joked. My great looks?
Still, the latest controversy involving Busch has entertained a number of people, including the folks at Charlotte Motor Speedway and driver Jimmie Johnson.
Speedway officials staged a delivery to Busch on Thursday at his news conference that included a pack of M&Ms (his No. 18 Toyotas primary sponsor) and boxing gloves.
Johnson, who was involved in a similar tiff with teammate Jeff Gordon several weeks ago, said he was enjoying the Busch-Hamlin controversy and was just thankful its not me in the middle of it.
I want to see it continue on, Johnson laughed.
For his part, Hamlin remains angry with Busch. Hamlin said: Kyle brings this stuff on himself. I dont want to be a part of it. Any drama he wants to create its on him. Anything he says on the radio its on him. Each year I think Kyle is going to grow out of it, and each year he doesnt. Until he puts it all together, thats when hell become a champion. Right now, he just doesnt have himself all together.
Busch, though (who qualified ninth Thursday for Sundays Coca-Cola 600), hardly seems bothered if people dont like him. One of his nicknames is Rowdy as the younger Busch brother, hes also called Shrub and he has been rowdy since he was the Cup series rookie of the year in 2005.
On the move in question Saturday night, Busch thought Hamlin cut him off with a bit of defensive driving when Busch was about to pass his teammate for the lead. That caused Busch to hit the wall, and he soon got a flat tire. Busch then stormed to Hamlins hauler, where he waited inside for Hamlin along with team owner Joe Gibbs.
One of the most interesting parts of Buschs news conference Thursday came when he talked about how different drivers would either open the door or close the door on a driver trying to pass in the same gray area.
In the close the door category, Busch put Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski, saying he wouldnt even attempt to pass them in the same situation. (Gordon said he thought Hamlin did nothing wrong.)
In the open the door, Busch put Joey Logano, older brother Kurt, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and himself. He said he thought Hamlin would also fall into that category but that he was wrong.
Although Busch is a forceful driver, hes not generally regarded as an unfair one. Said driver Jeff Burton: Kyle, in my view, has never been a guy who wrecks other people. Hes very aggressive but typically does it in a way that puts himself in harms way.
Busch sounded like a cross between Panthers coach John Fox and Popeye on Thursday when he said of himself: It is what it is and I am who I am.
And given the constant need for NASCAR drivers who can cause some sort of reaction from fans besides a shrug, there is no need for Busch to round off those rough edges anytime soon.
Scott Fowler: 704-358-5140; firstname.lastname@example.org.