Just a few quick observations following a marathon day on Saturday of auto racing qualifying and exhibition racing.
– NASCAR owner Joe Gibbs used to send Tony Stewart to anger management class when Tony would get bent out of shape about something. He should start doing that with Kyle Busch, who continually embarrasses his team and his sponsor when he doesn’t win, primarily because of his own mistakes.
The latest outburst saw him scramble out of his car on Saturday night, swing his arms around in anger and stalk into teammate Denny Hamlin’s trailer during the Sprint All-Star Race in which Busch hit the wall after coming up behind Hamlin and failing to check up.
Yes, Hamlin was trying to block him but that's what stock car racing is all about. Busch saw him drifting up the track and didn't back off in time.
"Somebody better keep me away from Denny Hamlin tonight," he’d said to his crew over the radio in a transmission broadcast by the Speed Channel, which was covering the race.
"I swear to God I’m going to (kill) him."
And while his brother, Kurt Busch, was celebrating his $1-million victory by driving backwards around the mile-and-half-half Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kyle was sitting inside Hamlin’s trailer, waiting for him and fuming.
I still think Kyle Busch is a marvelous talent. But his snotty behaviour and outlandish sense of entitlement ("we had that race won till he got in my way!") is wearing thin. He’s always happy to talk when he’s on top but nobody better go near him when he loses – or else.
Yes, he's a fierce competitor. And NASCAR probably thinks it's wonderful, considering its new "have-at-it,-boys" advertising campaign.
But most serious athletes have learned to control their tempers by the time they make it to the big leagues and Kyle Busch is still behaving as if he's 10, which means it's officially tiresome.
So call up Tony’s old professor, Joe, and tell him or her that you’re sending Kyle over.
It’s time he grew up.
By the way, Martin Truex Jr., who had to win the "showdown" (or last chance race) to make it into the All-Star joust, finished second and Joey Logano was third. Hamlin finished fourth and Stewart was fifth.
Kurt Busch also hit the wall twice but controlled both his emotions and his car to win the race. He did a great job.
It was a good day for Roger Penske. His car and driver, Kurt Busch, won the All-Star race and the million bucks ($1 million plus 78 thousand and change, to be precise). His Indy car driver, Helio Castroneves, won the pole at Indianapolis on Saturday – plus the $100,000 that went with it.
– Speaking of Indianapolis, Castroneves just edged his Penske teammate, Will Power, for the Indy 500 pole (an average speed of 227.970 miles an hour compared to 227.578 mph – which isn’t even a heartbeat) while Dario Franchitti was third fastest.
Canadian Alex Tagliani, who was fast all week going into qualifying, was fifth fastest and will start the 500 in fifth place, which is the middle of the second row.
Canada’s other great hope, Paul Tracy, did not qualify in the top 24 (which would have locked him into the May 30 race) and will have to get the job done Sunday when the field will be filled and bumping will take place.
About a dozen drivers – and maybe a few more as some always seem to come out of the wordwork at Indy at the last moment – will be trying for the final nine spots. Tracy will undoubtedly make it but this whole business is a lot closer than he would like.
If he somehow misses the big show, it will put a huge damper on his announcement planned for next Tuesday in Toronto concerning his entries in the Honda Indy Toronto and Honda Indy Edmonton.
As he told people on his Twitter feed late Saturday, he was feeling a bit down about the whole business.
– Danica Patrick was booed by the crowd at Indianapolis – fairly sizeable as compared to recent years, although nowhere near what it used to be before NASCAR took over as the No. 1 motor sport in the U.S.
She made the error – and she should have known better – of publicly blaming her team for her poor, 23rd starting position.
Two things: 1, she’s in the top 24 and locked into the race and I betcha Paul Tracy would trade his situation for hers in a second; 2, you might be ready to behead everybody on your team but a race driver can never, never, never say out loud that – whatever, a poor qualifying effort or a poor race finish – was anybody else’s fault but his or hers.
Three of the five women attempting to race in the 500 are in – Ana Beatriz, Simona De Silvestro and Patrick (all in a row, incidentally, and in that order). Team owner Sarah Fisher for some inexplicable reason didn’t make a qualifying attempt and Milka Duno was bumped out.