Jane Miller: Cranky Kyle driving like he means it
Kyle Busch can be rude, crude and have a bad attitude. But boy, the kid can drive.
Busch became the second two-time winner in Sprint Cup this year with his victory Sunday at Bristol. That followed a mess of a Nationwide Race on Saturday, where a mistake on pit road probably cost him a win.
After the checkered flag, Busch abandoned his car on the track and made his pit crew retrieve it.
Yet not only did the crewmembers not get fed up and quit, they worked even harder on Sunday.
"These guys are great," Busch said after Sunday's win. "They appreciate what I do behind the wheel. I appreciate what they do on pit road. That's a given in any team. Those guys should hang their head for (Saturday's mistake), but then wake up the next morning rejuvenated and ready to go.
"There's ways to get better in this sport, and the only way to do that is to jump back out there. It's basically, you know, reviewing your fear. You just get back out there and do it over again."
It's probably fair to say that the Nationwide loss drove Busch and the crew even harder in the Cup race.
"It was very frustrating," he said. "It's one you'll never get back. It's lost, gone. The trophy is not at my house. It's at Harvick's. ... You'll have those days. You'll have some days where the guys on pit road just have an off day."
And so can the driver.
"I have off days. I wrecked in Vegas for no reason 25 laps into the Nationwide race," Busch said. "(Saturday) was one of those days and it cost us a chance at a win. (Sunday) was a good day today where everybody did their job and the last stop was smooth. It's what made it happen."
Now 23, Busch is beginning to mature emotionally. His driving ability has always been well beyond his years.
When he gets in front in a race, he's pretty much gone. And if a driver is thinking of making up some ground on restarts, he might as well forget it.
"To be honest with you, every driver's different. We always heard about Ron Hornaday, how good he was, he was the restart king," Busch said. "There were a few times in Nationwide competition when I ran in 2004, I'll take the credit, I waxed him at it. But there were sometimes when he got back at me.
"It's just all about planning and kind of, I don't know, just being ready for it, trying to go as hard as you can."
And that's exactly what he does in the race.
"What I use (for motivation) is the car in front of me," he said. "If there's a car in front of me, I'm going to chase him. I want to pass that guy. If I'm the leader, there's another car in front of me, he's going a lap down. The more guys you get a lap down, the more you don't have to deal with at the end of the day. There's always some motivation to go forward.
"There's always somebody ahead of you that you can pass that's going to mean something. Even if you are the leader."
Frank Kerr, crew chief for Marcos Ambrose, was named Wypall Wipers crew chief of the race at Bristol.
The team ran in the top 10 most of the race and was able to bring home a 10th-place finish despite late-race engine problems.
Kerr is well known to local race fans as a four-time national Sprint car champion in the late Stan Shoff's car.
Formula One fans who haven't checked out f1-live.com should take a look. There are a lot of in-depth stories about the wonderful, dysfunctional series, including a piece about the almost-boycott by Renault and McLaren of this weekend's race and Bernie Ecclestone's reasons why there are no races in North America this year. ... It was sad to learn of the passing of Lloyd Ruby on Monday. He was a mainstay at the Indianapolis 500 when I first fell in love with the race in the late 1960s and the mention of his name brings back memories of those wonderful years. He ran the 500 in 18 consecutive years with a top finish of third in 1964.
Jane Miller is the Peoria Journal Star motorsports columnist. She can be reached at email@example.com.