Valdosta Daily Times


November 25, 2011

NASCAR in 2011: The good, the bad and the ugly


- — The Bad

Jimmie Johnson — How can someone be considered ‘bad’ when they finished sixth in the Chase and won two races? When you’re Jimmie Johnson and that’s all you accomplished this year, that’s how.

When you win five championships in a row, anything less than another championship isn’t a great year. His average finish this year was better than his average finish last year (11.9 compared to 12.2), but that wasn’t enough. His nine-year streak of top-five points finishes has been demolished.

The Ugly

Kurt and Kyle Busch — What can you say about the Busch brothers besides the fact that one has to wonder if their parents disciplined them as children. Both brothers got in trouble this year, like every year, said almost every expletive in the book to their crew chiefs, car owners, etc. and acted like five-year-olds who didn’t get the piece of candy they wanted.

It would take a whole other column to discuss who the two have had run-ins with this year. Owner Richard Childress reportedly held Kyle in a headlock this season while punching him in the face. Childress’ driver, Kevin Harvick, tried to reach into Kyle’s car at Darlington and punch him. Instead, Kyle sent Harvick’s car into the pit road wall.

Then Kyle spun out Harvick’s Truck Series driver, Ron Hornaday Jr., who was running for a championship, during a caution at Texas Motor Speedway, leaving NASCAR to suspend him for the rest of the weekend. He also lost his M&M’s sponsorship for the last two races of the year.

Last weekend at Miami, after brother Kurt wrecked out just a few laps into the race, Dr. Jerry Punch of ESPN stood in the garage waiting to talk to the elder Busch. Someone, a fan I suppose, had a camera, videotaping Kurt and Punch, waiting to go live on ESPN when Kurt began throwing expletives like they were going out of style. Punch finally said, “Never mind,” and walked away with the camera crew.

On Monday, in a decision that was probably made before Miami, Kurt’s crew chief, Steve Addington (who is also Kyle’s ex-crew chief) left the driver and Penske Racing. He’s the second crew chief to leave Kurt in the past three NASCAR seasons.

It’s time for them to grow up, especially Kurt. The elder Busch, who is going through a divorce and is already dating someone who looks exactly like his soon-to-be ex-wife, has caused more drama in the sport than “The Young and the Restless” has seen in its almost 40 years on the air. But talking the way he did in Miami to a man who has been reporting on the sport for years is pushing the line.

When Roush-Fenway Racing released Kurt from its stable of drivers in 2005, they made the comment that they were no longer apologizing for Kurt. Maybe it’s time for Roger Penske to do the same.

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