OPINION: Kyle Busch is finding a happy place outside of his comfort zone

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OPINION: Kyle Busch is finding a happy place outside of his comfort zone

Insights & Analysis

OPINION: Kyle Busch is finding a happy place outside of his comfort zone


Kyle Busch is a racing phenom. His name litters the history books and highlight reels on the track and in front of the camera. Damn good at what he does and entertaining to watch, NASCAR hasn’t been the same since Busch made his first national series start in 2001. But he’s still not afraid to step out of his comfort zone.

Busch is fueled by success and competition. Two NASCAR Cup Series titles are great. So is being the winningest driver across all three series and breaking the 200 wins mark.

Busch isn’t just a driver, he’s a goal-getter. He’s won 222 races across three series. He has championships in two of the three. He’s been the champion owner for some of the sport’s young stars in the Camping World Truck Series. Whatever is out there to accomplish in NASCAR, Busch tries to put it on his resume.

He is the perfect superhero to fans and villain to critics. Winning is all that matters to him, and he doesn’t care if it rubs others the wrong way while he does it. Or if they’re being pissed off because he didn’t.

All of this makes Busch a future NASCAR Hall of Famer. A rare talent that has adapted to different generations of race cars, aero packages, teams, crew chiefs and still won. Stock cars have provided Busch with a great career and lifestyle. It’s a comfortable arena.

This is why it was so striking when Busch posted a picture on his Twitter page last week from the Tulsa Shootout captioned “the rookie and the vet”. Busch left his comfort zone and the world where he gets accused of beating up on the little guy to pad his stats in dirt racing on his Tulsa debut.

In his non-wing outlaw heat race on Wednesday, Busch went from eighth to the win. Ultimately, he didn’t make the main events, but everyone sure knew he was in town.

Busch is just one of the latest in what has become a trend of auto racing stars competing outside their primary series. His Tulsa experience, in which he ran four of the six divisions, came a few weeks after he ran a Nitro Rallycross race in Arizona.

Busch is one of the rare talents who can sit in anything and, before too long, figure it out and be competitive. It’s why his name is constantly included when the conversation comes up about wish list drivers to run the Indianapolis 500.

Not only can he drive anything, but Busch also has a rare ability to understand what he’s driving. It’s as if NASCAR scanners were made so that we can listen to drivers like Busch. The communication between he and his team about what each area of the car is doing is impressive. Shut up and drive? Not Busch. Let him break what the car is doing down to the smallest of details, and then consider his suggested changes.

Maybe he’ll get there on dirt, should Busch continue to try his hand at it. It is still a relatively new adventure for him. There was Tulsa, and last year Busch ran a dirt super late model before the inaugural Cup Series race on the Bristol dirt.

It’s a rare sight to see Busch cast as the inexperienced driver trying to keep up with everyone else. And Busch admitting to getting his ass kicked doesn’t happen very often.

It would be easy for him to stay in stock cars where life is good and he has nothing to prove, except Busch is a racer. Give him a steering wheel, any steering wheel, and watch the magic happen.

Jimmie Johnson is a seven-time NASCAR champion who won every major race on the schedule. At 45 years old, Johnson decided to reinvent himself as an open-wheel driver.

Kyle Larson is lauded as one of the greatest drivers on dirt when he shows up and spanks the field in whatever state he’s competing. Chase Elliott gets praised for being a big-name still interested in grassroots racing or trying something new like the Chili Bowl.

Give Kyle Busch the same respect and do so where he’s not the best driver there. Although it probably won’t be long before he’s damn good at dirt racing, too.