Hail the Conquering Hero

Kyle Busch celebrates with the fans. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, April 22, 11:15 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

Kyle Busch may be a flawed hero, but, at the moment, he’s the only hope.

That may be a consequence of immediacy, which seems to be all that matters anymore. In the Age of Technology, there is no past, no future, only present. Busch has won three races in a row. Kevin Harvick won three straight earlier in this very season, but no matter. Even before Busch increased the relevance of the title, Toyota Owners 400, the marketing engine was cranking. He and Dale Earnhardt Jr. publicly buried an old, rusty hatchet. The sudden Man of the People climbed into the grandstands to mingle with the fans.

Darrell Wallace Jr. leads a pack of cars. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

Richmond Raceway’s return to the springtime night was a good, not great, race, but if a classic is run every week, it ceases to be a classic. Five days earlier, in the gloom of a Monday afternoon, Busch won a marvelous Bristol race in front of a crowd that rounded down to zero. Saturday night’s was merely disappointing, in spite of lovely weather.

At the moment, there isn’t much else out there, and Busch is basically it. His Toyota advertised three flavors of M&Ms. None was vanilla. He’s got that going for him.

Busch started 32nd. It’s not the disadvantage it once was, what with all the bells and whistles, but it’s good for the sport to see a fast car slicing and dicing its way through the field.

I kept my head down, kept myself focused all night long, trying to bring home a win,” Busch said.

Who could dislike this guy? (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Perhaps the excursion into the stands was a good test of how fans are finally getting accustomed to Busch’s contrary ways. Those who lingered were happy to see him. Those who didn’t were either in their personal vehicles, trying to get out of there, or stomping toward them with invective on their breaths.

Aw, what the hell.

Don’t worry,” Busch said. “I was definitely eyeing it out, like, who’s there, who’s there, who’s there.  Saw a lot of ‘18’ stuff, so I just decided to go up there, give some guys and some kids some high fives, what’s ups. Fortunately, I got back out of there. They held onto me for a second, then my brute strength ripped me out of their arms and brought me back to civilization on the race track.”

The masses may not be fully acclimated, but they’ve lost their interest in fistfights. It’s called progress. As Virginia’s Statler Brothers almost sang, “Junior’s gone, and Disney’s dead, and the screen is filled with sex.”

Harvick still lurks. Chase Elliott still runs second. Jimmie Johnson is starting to rustle. The other kids are removing the training wheels from their bikes.

It’s natural to play the hot hand.


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About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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