Hot/Not: Should Kyle Busch’s Nationwide domination drive more changes?

Geoffrey Miller
May 10, 2011

It wasn't Labor Day weekend, but Mother's Day weekend in Darlington is quickly proving to be one of the best on the NASCAR calendar — a distinction, of course, Darlington has held since it opened in 1950. Let's jump in to the mild-mannered weekend that was:

Hot: After his fifth win of the Nationwide Series season Friday night at Darlington, Kyle Busch's winning percentage in that series is a gaudy .555 (5 wins in 9 races). Talk about ridiculous domination.

Not: On that note, has NASCAR's plan to reward points to only non-Cup Series drivers been completely stymied or what? In 10 Nationwide Series races in 2011, the winners have been Busch (5), Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards (2) and Denny Hamlin.

It's obvious that these guys don't really care about points, as NASCAR had hoped. Maybe it's time these Cup guys were only able to participate if they raced for a non-Cup affiliated Nationwide team.

It won't keep them out of victory lane — Martin won the Turner Motorsports No. 32 at Las Vegas — but it might get them on a more level playing field.

Another suggestion thrown around this weekend — originally brought to light by's Tom Jensen, I believe — was to draft different rules for Cup drivers participating in the Nationwide Series.

More narrowly, Jensen supposed that adding 100 pounds of car weight for each time a Cup driver wins in the Nationwide Series would begin to make a difference.

There seems to be a lot reasons why this scheme would work — mainly because it's easy to do, easy to regulate and easy to explain to fans — and very few as to why it wouldn't.

Regardless, the Nationwide Series needs to be a division dedicated to up-and-coming talent and with rules that are slighted in their favor. The weekly viewing of Kyle Busch's Nationwide Series Playground seems to be wearing many a fan thin.

Hot: Kasey Kahne led 124 laps at Darlington and he may have been more of a force had he not been sucking in exhaust fumes for much of the race after smacking the wall early. [Need proof? Just check out his scrambled, I-think-I'm-going-to-throw-up post-race interview.] {ysp:more}

More impressive is that Kahne is the ultimate odd man out this year, driving in a one-year stopgap deal at Red Bull Racing until he's ready to grab the No. 5 seat at Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. If he's this good in a team that has been subpar at best for most of it's existence, how good can Kahne be at Hendrick next season?

After Darlington, Kahne is 15th in points with two top-5s to his name (both in the most recent two race races) in 2011. Meanwhile, teammate Brian Vickers is 29th.

Hot: Dale Earnhardt Jr. did make a mistake Saturday night by taking out Pit Road Cone — a favorite of many Marbles readers, according to Saturday night's live race chat — during his final green-flag stop to earn a pass-through penalty.

Still, Earnhardt rallied to a 14th-place finish and now finds himself fourth in the Sprint Cup standings. That marks his best standing after 10 races since 2008, when he was third in points in his first year at Hendrick.

Not: Jeff Gordon's restarts tended to be terrible Saturday night. Gordon seemingly lost spots on most every green flag, only to make them up again as the run continued.

Courtesy of Fox's up-close-and-personal camera angles, those of us at home will never know how Gordon managed to lose several spots in the closing laps. The No. 24 went from a top-5 car all night to a 12th-place finish.

That won't be helpful in getting Gordon, now 17th in the standings, into a Chase lock-in spot.

Hot: Kurt Busch sounded like a man who had been through Radio Rehab during Saturday night's race. Calm and collective typically was Busch's tone during the 500-miler, and when he was pushed into a rage-inducing situation, he had a new remedy: turning his radio off.

Boring for the rest of us, sure, but a welcome sound for many at Penske Racing, I'd guess.

Not: Tony Stewart has likely hit an all-time low in the luck department. Smoke had a top-3 car Saturday night until crew chief Darian Grubb called the No. 14 to pit road as one of the first cars to get service during the final green-flag pit stops.

Laps later, with none of the other leaders having pitted, the yellow flew for Jeff Burton's expired engine. Stewart was trapped a lap down and off-cycle from the leaders, leading him to a seventh-place finish.

Not: Last, I'll chime on with a quick opinion about the surprising, chaotic events after the race's conclusion with Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

The biggest concern from the incident has to be Harvick's free-roaming car on pit road. The dangers of a runaway car are obvious and don't need to be restated.

However, you have to wonder just a bit about Busch's decision to flee when Harvick approached. Busch, seated in a race car with minimal available space, donning a helmet and with a protective window net in reach, decided his best course of action was to push Harvick's car out of the way.

Unless Harvick had a steel mallet or a sword tucked away in his driving suit, there wasn't much he was going to do to Busch aside from yelling and a small slap fight.

If you're going to turn a guy so intentionally — make no bones about it, Busch did just that — you've got to have a little more gusto to stand up for what you've done.

Does that mean Busch has to get out of the car and go toe-to-toe with Mr. Happy? Certainly not.

But don't choose another route that lays danger to those on pit road and that seriously damages another team's race car.

That said, if you're screaming for Busch to be suspended or otherwise heavily reprimanded, I find some major faults in that argument. Fans pushed for "Have at it, boys" and succeeded.

Saturday night, the boys had at it. And "it" was NASCAR gold.