Commentary

Kurt Busch's new boss? Kyle Busch

Updated: January 20, 2012, 1:58 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Let's get the jokes about Kurt and Kyle Busch uniting to run the 2012 Nationwide Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports out of the way first, because you know you're going to make them.

You're going to say they have the perfect sponsor in Monster Energy because both are monsters on -- and sometimes off -- the track.

You're going to say it was fitting that two police cars, an ambulance and fire truck were at Thursday's news conference to announce the team because both always are in trouble.

[+] EnlargeKurt Busch and Kyle Busch
Rusty Jarrett/Getty ImagesKurt Busch surprised little brother Kyle Busch as Kyle was playing Santa for kids at the Ronald McDonald House in 2005. Kyle played Santa again Thursday, giving his big brother a part-time job in the Nationwide Series.

You're going to say they might as well work together because they can't get along with anybody else. You're going to say they should get a two-for-one deal from their sports psychologists because they work out of the same building.

You're going to say ...

Go ahead, get them out of your system. They are prepared for it.

"For sure," Kurt said as he stood inside his brother's garage only a stone's throw from the Penske Racing organization that fired him after the 2011 Sprint Cup season. "That's what a branding such as this does. It draws attention, so when people think of monsters and have the opportunity to go into a grocery store or convenience store, they're going to grab that 'M' first."

One thing about the Busch brothers -- particularly Kurt: They know how to promote a sponsor. They also know how to throw a news conference.

Between X Games champions doing high-flying backflips on their motorcycles with wind conditions that were a bit scary to the scantily clad Monster Girls to the grand entrance of Kyle and Kurt in black No. 54 Toyotas with the jagged Monster Energy "M" prominently displayed on all panels, this exuded edginess.

And, after all, isn't that what the Busch brothers are all about, being edgy?

"We just want to win," Kyle said.

But there's another side to the Busch brothers that we don't often see, one that stood out more than the lime green "M" during this momentous occasion.

We forget that before Kyle, 26, became known as "Rowdy" and Kurt, 33, became an outcast dealing with anger issues, they were buddies like many brothers are.

Most of us have the image of the two wrecking each other in the final segment of the 2007 Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, of them blaming each other for the incident and saying things about each other that didn't sound so brotherly.

But the image the two drivers fall back on is one of Kurt in the seat of a go-kart with 1-year-old Kyle between his legs and their dad, Tom, standing on the back axle controlling the carburetor because Kurt couldn't reach the gas pedal.

"That's the image I grew up with," Kurt said. "That's what it's about. It's about family."

So much of NASCAR's history has been about family, from the Pettys to the Allisons to the Busches. There was an event earlier in the week when Bobby and Donnie Allison sat in leather chairs and still butted heads over the outcome of a 1967 Legends race at Martinsville Speedway.

But beyond the desire to beat each other every time they hit the track, there was the respect and love for each other that went beyond checkered flags and trophies.

That's what this deal is for the Busch brothers. After a year in which both were persecuted and punished -- Kyle for driving a street car 128 mph in a 45 mph zone, run-ins with Kevin Harvick and intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. in a Truck race, Kurt for profanity-laced tirades over his in-car radio and on television -- it was like they needed each other.

We were always racing so hard, it was hard for us to spend time with one another. ... What a helluva combination. Us two running every single race. It's going to be fun hanging out like that.

-- Kurt Busch

Nobody understands Kurt better than Kyle and vice versa.

"When you're teamed up with family, it's easier to go have that fun," Kurt said. "It's easier because you're on the same page."

Kurt and Kyle really do like each other despite what Kurt described as the "myth we don't get along." They just needed time apart to develop their own identities after last racing together for their father as late as 1999.

By the time Kyle reached the Sprint Cup Series full time in 2005, Kurt already was a Cup champion at Roush Fenway Racing. Kyle was Kurt's little brother, and like most little brothers, he wanted to escape that image.

By 2008, when he won eight Cup races, Kyle was being called by some the most talented driver in the garage. Kurt was almost an afterthought, struggling to 18th in points for Penske Racing.

We didn't see them together much at the track, and when we did, it often was in a controversial situation like the 2007 All-Star Race.

"We were always racing so hard, it was hard for us to spend time with one another," Kurt said.

Now they are back together, joking and enjoying life like brothers should. As Kyle said repeatedly, "It was a good fit."

It's a fit that wouldn't have happened had Kurt not imploded at Penske and been left to drive in the Cup series for Phoenix Racing. It's a fit that wouldn't have happened had it not been strongly suggested to Kyle by Cup team owner Joe Gibbs that Kyle should not drive trucks this season and should back off the Nationwide schedule.

The stars that seemed crossed for both during the end of 2011 now seem aligned.

They talked about winning all 33 Nationwide races, Kyle driving in 13 to 15 events and Kurt the rest. They talked of taking home the owner's championship for KBM.

They probably will.

They also talked about wanting to beat each other worse than anybody else, as the Allisons did.

They had fun with each other, too. When asked whether he's gone beyond being Kurt's little brother, Kyle said, "I'm his boss is what I am."

So does that mean Kurt won't be allowed to talk to his new boss with the disrespect he did his old boss, Roger Penske?

"Yes," Kyle said with a smile. "Yes. You'll see a difference."

Replied Kurt, "Absolutely. I have the utmost respect for my younger brother."

It was the sort of playful routine you would expect to see from brothers. But when they get on the track, it'll be all about winning. That's why Monster Energy committed to two drivers who did more at the end of last season to embarrass their sponsors than promote them.

"It's about a desire to win," Kurt said. "They want their logo to cross the finish line first. That's what the Busch brothers are all about."

Joke all you want about them, but it's the truth. Kurt has 24 Cup wins and a title. Kyle has 23 Cup wins, 51 Nationwide wins and a title, and 30 Truck series wins.

Their personalities may be a little ragged, like the "M" on the No. 54 Toyota, but they get results.

"What a helluva combination," Kurt said. "Us two running every single race. It's going to be fun hanging out like that."

Jokes aside, this will be fun for everybody.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DNewtonespn.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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