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Kyle Busch Revisited: A new day, a new Kyle....

A new Kyle Busch....or just for a day? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   The strange case of Kyle Busch continues….
   In our last episode, at Dover, Del., Busch was fast but frustrated the entire weekend, and then he vanished, with nary a word about the issues and his struggles.
   But now, here on the eve of Sunday's Pocono 500, Busch is back in high-gear, quick and garrulous, smooth-talking the media, and making us all but forget last week.
   In fact, Busch so far this weekend seems almost a new man.
   Of course what happens if Sunday's four-hour race doesn't go well for him remains to be seen.
   However at the moment he's cool with it all.
   Maybe it's part of his 'shuttle diplomacy.' Busch is running the Nationwide series too, and that tour is in a different town from the Cup tour the next few weeks.
   "It will be a little stressful, but we're going to make the most of it, we're going to try to have some fun with it," Busch says of this weekend's Pocono-Nashville-Pocono commute.
   "Trying to turn a new page or something. 
    "It's not so bad, I guess.  We'll just try to make the most of the effort."
   At least Busch isn't trying to run the Truck race in Texas this weekend too: "We did it once, and we saw how stupid it was. So we're not doing it again. 
    "I'd do it. But, man, by the time you come to Sunday, you are just worn out mentally.
    " Physically I was fine, but mentally I was like 'Gosh….'
    "And then you run 500 miles here at this place and that really gets to you." 
   However Friday's rain, which idled everyone, put Busch behind at this track. "It kind of stinks, because I was looking forward to getting on the track and getting some practice in…."
   But let's go back to Dover for a moment. Busch is leading the Nationwide race in the final miles, then he gets bopped in the rear by teammate Joey Logano.
   What was that all about?
   "I talked to Logano five minutes after the race was over, maybe 10," Busch says. "Before that last caution, I was trying to lap a car that had forced me low down the front straightaway, almost all the way down to the apron, and we must have punctured a tire there…because I felt it the last two corners before the caution came out -- that the right-front was getting soft. 
    "I didn't call it over the radio because I didn't want to give everybody Christmas and say I had a tire going down, because if I could have jacked up the restart enough and caused a wreck, then I would have been fine, I would have been golden. It was a green-white-checkered, so I would have won the race. 
    "That didn't happen. 
    "I went off into turn one, and Joey was going to follow me…and that's why I was as high as I was -- because I wasn't expecting him to follow me.
    "But he did. 
    "He got in the back of me a little. And it was no fault whatsoever of Joey.  I have no issues with Joey at all.  It was a flat right-front tire that I knew before the restart, and I went high just to try to give room to everybody…and Joey was going to follow me because I had been beating him on the restarts all day. 
    "It just didn't work out."
    Okay, all that makes sense.
   But what about all these jibes at Dale Earnhardt Jr.? What is this 'rivalry' all about?
   Busch dismisses that story line. "It's just people trying to build it up.
   "To me, I've got no issues with Dale Jr. whatsoever. 
    "It wasn't him that kicked me out of Hendrick Motorsports, to be honest with you. It was Casey Mears. 
   "But it is what it is, and Junior had a strong run last weekend, a good start in the right direction for him.  That's about it."
    Okay, maybe we can buy that.
    But what about this car-of-tomorrow, the one Busch has been so vocal about, the one that many drivers have complained about for more than a year now, only to be met with stonewall silence in reply from NASCAR officials?
   Well, now drivers are saying that NASCAR is telling them the COT will indeed finally be getting some tweaks…eventually. What tweaks, no one seems to know. When, no one seems to know.
   And then maybe it's just more idle PR from NASCAR, to cool crews off.
   Or maybe NASCAR may just decide a cheap, easy way to solve some of the COT issues at mid-size tracks, like next week's stop at Michigan, would be just to slap a carburetor restrictor plate on the cars, to slow them down and bunch them up. Hey, if it works for the fans at Talladega and Daytona, why not Michigan, Chicago, and California?
   And NASCAR execs certainly seem to be getting an earful from fans.
   So the next issue, Busch says he hopes NASCAR addresses will "hopefully be something with the cars. 
   "I would like to see something, just a little something done. 
   "Whether we take 100 pounds of lead out of the cars and make them lighter…whether we add left-side weight….or take weight out of the right-side and add left-side weight….just to help the cars.
   "We're getting smarter on how to build these things.  We're making the same car with less material.  So ultimately the cars are being built lighter. 
    "We're not welding as many things. The integrity is still there, and the car's structure is still there, everything is the same.  You have a thickness of the tubing --- all these things have minimum requirements. 
   "We're just getting smarter. We're not leaving as much extra material hanging in areas that it doesn't need to be hanging.  We're drilling holes where stuff that can be lightened. The window braces now, they look like Swiss cheese, because they're all just drilled and cut so they have the most material taken out of them. 
   "When we first built these cars (two years ago) they had no lead in them. Now we're building cars there might run 200 pounds of lead.
   "It's just getting smarter.  It's finding exotic materials for control arms, for spindles; it's redoing all those aspects of the car. 
    "Not just the chassis is lighter, not just the body is lighter, but it's everything."
    Which all adds up, and gives crews the ability to move that extra ballast around inside the car to make it handle better.

"It's just getting smarter.

"It's just getting smarter. It's finding exotic materials for control arms, for spindles; it's redoing all those aspects of the car."

The COT was supposed to reel in the budgets, but as with ANY car, the big teams are going to spend crazy money finding ways to make their cars better. When I hear "exotic materials" being used in conversation, I know that the COT has not changed that aspect. The only thing the COT does do is that it seems to make weak teams semi-competitive, and it seems to separate the great drivers from the good ones. In those terms, I like the COT.

COT is not making weak teams

COT is not making weak teams semi-competitive, nor is it seperating great drivers from good ones. There is NO evidence that a weak team is now semi-competitive because of the COT, and the "great driver-good driver" dichotomy is bogus right now because the drivers aren't racing each other, they're just pounding out laps.

No, it would appear he still

No, it would appear he still has some maturing to do.

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