Kyle Busch red-hot after tire hiccup

March, 22, 2009
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Members of Kyle Busch's pit crew were laughing and smiling as they worked on the No. 18 car early Sunday morning. If they were scarred by their driver's comment at the end of Saturday's Nationwide Series race, they didn't show it.

Busch, 23, should have won that race. He led a race-high 156 laps and was out front when he entered pit road for his final stop on Lap 254.

But a crew member let the right rear tire that was pushed to the wall get away, and Busch was penalized for leaving the pit box before it could be retrieved. He rallied to finish sixth but wasn't happy with that.

OK, he was furious. Steaming.

Instead of leaving his car on pit road where everybody else did, Busch parked it in Turn 3 and headed for the escape tunnel without talking to crew members, reporters … anybody. His last words over the in-car radio were a sharp "y'all suck" to his crew, followed by "get my clothes from the hauler."

Justified or not, the words didn't need to be shared with anybody listening to a scanner. A year ago, teammate Denny Hamlin took a shot at the engine department of Joe Gibbs Racing after a blown engine at Michigan dropped him to 12th in the Cup point standings.

That, crew chief Mike Ford said, made for a long week with "some double throwdown and not-so-friendly meetings."

"The next couple of weeks were very difficult," he said.

Most of the guys who heard Busch's comment were the same ones who service his car on Sundays. Crew chief Steve Addington isn't worried about repercussions, saying that if you take those things personally, "you're in the wrong business."

Addington added that the person who let the tire away wasn't part of the Cup over-the-wall team. Not that it matters.

"You've got to take it with a grain of salt," he said. "It's the heat of battle. It's part of it. Kyle's not the only driver I've worked for that has raised Cain about his car."

He won't be the last, either, but there has to be a better way of showing frustration than taking it out on the guys who bust their butts for you. Hamlin learned. He and Ford credit the Michigan moment as huge for the driver's maturity.

Maybe this one will be for Busch.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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