It's difficult analyzing at which Kyle Busch is better – driving a racecar or ticking off fans.
Whichever one it is, it's clear he loves doing the first and can't help but do the second.
Prior to Saturday night's race at Bristol Motor Speedway, drivers were instructed to introduce themselves to the crowd. The timing couldn't have been more perfect, what with Busch's admitted dump of Brad Keselowski less than 24 hours earlier still very fresh in everyone's mind. When the microphone came to Busch, who was going for an unprecedented weekend sweep (he had won the Nationwide and Trucks Series races), he was greeted by a wild round of boos.
"Ohhh, you all are soooo loving. Thank you," he said before introducing himself. "Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Doublemint Camry. Ready to win it again."
Moments later, it was Keselowski's turn.
"Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing Dodge. Kyle Busch is an ass."
Kudos to Bristol Motor Speedway for coming up with this genius of an idea.
If you thought Busch would be fazed by the boos or Keselowski's fightin' words, guess again. He started 19th, barreled his way to the front before the halfway mark (when he muscled his car around Jimmie Johnson), then led most of the final 280 laps to complete one of the most dominant weeks in the history of NASCAR.
In Wednesday's Truck Series race, Busch drove from back to front to get things started. On Friday night, he refused to bow down to Keselowski, whose nudging of Busch into the wall prompted Busch's retaliation. Saturday's win in the Irwin Tools Night Race made Busch the first driver to win all three national series races in the same week since the origination of the Truck Series in 1995.
"I've been trying to do this since I got to NASCAR, since I got my NASCAR career," Busch said. "Fortunately, tonight I was able to get it done, be the first one to do it."
When asked about Keselowski's pre-race comment, Busch asked, "Who?"
Told Keselowski drives the No. 12 car, Busch said, "I saw it, but I passed it."
Busch isn't worried about Keselowski, whose only relevance in the Cup Series stems from his aggressive driving and the payback it draws. Nor does Busch seem bothered by the sour relationship he has with NASCAR fans. Racing, winning every event and making sure everyone knows he doesn't care what you think are seemingly Busch's only priorities whenever he shows up to a race track.
"I do what I'm supposed to do, and to win races is my job," Busch said. "Secondly, it's to make [team president] J.D. [Gibbs] happy and [crew chief] Dave [Rogers] and the sponsors and those guys happy. And then thirdly, it's to try to sell souvenirs. The fans are what drives this sport and what makes us go round and get us here every week. So it's cool to have them here, and they're passionate about who they like and who they don't like.
"I've been in this position since the upstart of my career, since I was 16, and it hasn't changed, and I don't foresee it changing any time soon," Busch continued in talking about the reaction he gets from fans. "We've asked this question about 50 million times, and I'll probably get it 25 million more times. You know, you just deal with it, man. You just go out there and do what you can."
The win moved Busch up five spots in the standings to third. He likely will be the next driver (joining Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon) to clinch a spot in this year's Chase, which Busch missed in 2009.
While there was some shuffling in the standings – Johnson got wrecked by Juan Pablo Montoya, resulting in a 35th-place finish that dropped the four-time defending champion all the way down to ninth – the top 11 drivers still are pretty much set. Clint Bowyer, in a dog fight with Mark Martin for the final spot going into Saturday's race, further solidified his grip on 12th with a solid fourth-place finish. He now is 100 points clear of Jamie McMurray, whose third-place finish slid him into 13th in the standings.
"It's a little bit of cushion," Bowyer said. "Jamie McMurray is 13th now behind me, and he beat me tonight. But we've just got to keep doing what we're doing. If we do that, I don't think they can catch us."
- Kyle Busch