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Kurt Busch: taking a page from Dale Earnhardt's championship playbook? | NASCAR Racing Breaking News: Trackside Live, Every Week, Every Sprint Cup Race - MikeMulhern.net


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Kurt Busch: taking a page from Dale Earnhardt's championship playbook?

  Kurt Busch: finally someone who can rattle Jimmie Johnson's cage? Busch (22) versus Busch (Camry) late in Saturday's Nationwide 200, with Kurt beating Kyle for the win (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   He won the Sonoma Cup race in June. He just won Saturday's Nationwide race here at the Glen. He's involved in a personal battle with Jimmie Johnson. And the NASCAR championship playoffs are looming.
   So what to make of Kurt Busch, and Sunday's Sprint Cup stop at Watkins Glen International?

   Busch, whose younger brother Kyle took the pole for Sunday's Cup sprint, in overcast Saturday weather, for the stock car tour's second road race of the season, will start way back in row 14 Sunday afternoon. And he's probably not the only driver here who may have trouble focusing on the job at hand, because of all these sideline issues.
    Busch concedes this thing with Johnson could affect both men in the playoffs: "It can."
    And Busch seems to think this 'thing' could help both men focus on the title.
   "When that group starts to separate, into who's going to run for the championship -- like with Rusty Wallace and Dale (Earnhardt) Sr., it was those two guys. 
    "You always seem to have two or three guys….and then it got down just to two guys who were going to compete for the championship. 
    "I'd love to see that atmosphere. 
     "If we can perform well enough in the chase and be in position to race Jimmie Johnson for the championship head-to-head, that would be wonderful."
    It certainly looks like Busch has figured out how to rattle Johnson's cage….
    Johnson is still rattled here.

   Kurt Busch: winning Saturday's Nationwide 200, while subbing for injured teammate Brad Keselowski. Looks like Kurt Busch still has a winning touch on NASCAR road courses (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    "It's great," Kurt Busch says. "It means I'm in his head. And if I'm in his head, he's got to worry about us running through this chase."

    Pocono Redux?
    "It was one of those days when emotions boiled over," Kurt Busch says. "I felt the way we raced each other on the track was what champions need to do -- And that is to bring the cars home where they were running on track. 
    "Third and fourth is where we were, and that's where we crossed the line. 
    "We raced each other with a juke-and-jive, and 'Rubbin', that's racing.'
   "If we would have run into each other in the motorcoach lot afterwards, the adrenaline would have calmed down a bit, and there would have been a better discussion.  He's was really amped up; he felt I did him wrong. 
    "The response we got from different people this week, and the race fans -- they said it was exciting. That's the intensity and passion our sport is built on.
    "I talked to my dad, and my dad was like 'Well, that's rubbin'. That's racing, son.  That's how it works.'
    "He gave me that confidence.
     "I'm putting the 'R' back in racing and rubbin'."
    Kurt Busch says he's not bothered by the rubbing on the track, but more by Johnson confronting him on pit road after the race….
    "He was very excited after the race, and came over to my car in my pit area, where we were parked, and was really excited," Busch said. 
    "The 'line' was (crossed) when he swerved at us to break the draft; that's not a move of a five-time champion.  That's the move of a guy that has had an issue with a guy like me.
     "We've raced each other hard, and I've been spun out and wrecked a few times. We both know that we look at each other very sternly.
     "That's great competition. 
    "(But) when you have a history with a guy, you just don't forget about it. 
    "I learned from one of the greats about how to keep a memory of who does you right or who does you wrong -- and that was Jimmy Spencer.  He taught me a lot."
   Here Sunday, and the next few weeks, Busch and Johnson, and the rest of the guys already pretty much locked into the playoffs, may need to keep a wary eye on rivals who are still struggling to make the chase.
   "Being up in the top-four, and having an 88-point cushion on the cutoff….You can gain 40-some points in a race, and you always think of that as the 'big cushion,'" Busch says. "So we have a two-race 'cushion.'
    "I'm glad we're not one of those guys racing their way in, or trying to race for a win. David Ragan, Paul Menard, Denny Hamlin could fall into that…and Tony Stewart's going to be in the mix. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., who doesn't have a win and is right on the edge. 
   "There are half-a-dozen guys going into Richmond with the stress level pegged."

Rattle his Jaw or JJ's cage?

After 5 consecutive championships, my money is on JJ as far as getting into anyone's head. With Bush's big mouth, it would appear that JJ has a clear path. The last thing I would want would be a PO'd Johnson in my rear view mirror. As for Bush's continued comments about JJ acting like a champion -Well, when Bush get's to 5, he might be a bit more qualified to critique JJ's actions, till then, he just talks waaaaaaaay tooooo much. Shut up an drive.......uh that means not swerving into someone when they pass you too.

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