Kyle Busch doesn’t hold anything back when he has an opinion on something. That is a big reason why his fans love him, and everyone else loves to hate him. His latest remarks are likely to elicit strong responses either way since he didn’t pull any punches addressing NASCAR’s treatment of young drivers.
“All you’re doing is advertising all these younger guys for fans to figure out and pick up on and choose as their favorite driver,” Busch said about NASCAR’s strategy of pushing the young drivers as the new face of the sport via ESPN. “I think it’s stupid. I don’t know, I’m not the marketing genius that’s behind this deal.”
With the big names that have left the sport in the last couple of years, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon being two of the biggest, NASCAR has been promoting the up-and-coming drivers hard in an effort not to lose long time fans who find themselves without a favorite driver. Busch sees another angle to promoting the young guns, saying:
“I guess one thing that can be said that the younger guys are bullied into doing more things than the older guys are because we say no a lot more because we’ve been there, done that, have families and things like that and want to spend as much time as we can at home. Maybe that’s some of it. But some of the marketing campaigns pushing these younger drivers is I wouldn’t say all that fair.”
It’s no secret that NASCAR values a driver who is good on TV, good in interviews and will do whatever is asked of them by sponsors, and Busch thinks that is a factor in the young guys being promoted over some of the veterans.
Another veteran driver, Clint Bowyer, says there is no problem in pushing the young drivers as long as NASCAR is careful about it.
“I don’t care — they’re good kids and I understand,” said Bowyer. “They’re filling some pretty big voids. You got somebody getting into Jeff Gordon’s car. You’ve got somebody getting into Dale Jr.’s car. We have to figure out how to fill that void somehow, and it can’t all be on the same old guys that have been there. I get it if they deserve it. … Look at Matt Kenseth, he was outrunning them pretty much each and every week and not getting the limelight — some of those things are bothersome at times.”
Promoting a hot, new talent is one thing, but giving more exposure to a young driver who hasn’t proved much while a consistently strong performer gets left out in the cold rubs Bowyer the wrong way. And he wouldn’t let that slide if he was in that position, saying:
“… If I was running up front and should have been in the limelight, I would have been barking, biting back a little bit.”