By Jared Turner
Fans love to loathe Kyle Busch. This was never more evident than on Saturday at Bristol, where boos rained down on the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion after his victory in the Bass Pro Shops / NRA Night Race.
The victory capped an amazing four-day stretch for Busch, who won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race a night earlier after going to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race two nights before that. When Busch parked his No. 18 Toyota at the start/finish line and emerged from his car with arms raised in celebration after earning his third win in four days in Thunder Valley, there was no escaping the disdain for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
Appropriately, as the fans booed and jeered, Busch fired back.
“It’s awesome to have a legion of fans no matter if they’re the biggest ones or the 50 percent ones or whatever,” he said in the mic. “A lot of people like a lot of other drivers that were popular … so I don’t care. I am who I am.”
Be it because of his brash personality, proclivity for dipping down and winning too often in the lower NASCAR series, or something else, the driver nicknamed “Rowdy” is no fan-favorite. But you know what? Busch does not need to change. Sure, he’s arrogant. Sure, he might be less maligned if he didn’t participate and so often dominate in the lower series. But there’s something to be said for Busch’s bullish “I-don’t-give-a-crap-if-you-like-me-or-not” attitude.
At a time when TV ratings and attendance for NASCAR races continue to decline, the sport needs at least one driver who is totally willing to embrace the role of the villain. That driver is Busch. And the more he wins — and ticks people off — the better off NASCAR will be.