Jeff Gluck, NASCAR Scene
KYLE BUSCH FUELS CONTROVERSY CALLS EARNHARDT, JR. FANS ‘CRAZY’
Kyle Busch continued to fuel the fire in the aftermath of his guitar-smashing antics at Nashville Superspeedway, saying he didn’t regret the incident and that Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fans were “crazy.”
After winning the Nationwide Series race at Nashville June 6, Busch took the custom-made trophy guitar and smashed it on the ground in the mode of a rock star.
The move was controversial, leaving some fans infuriated and others praising Busch.
Busch said he thought he knew which were which.
“A lot of people enjoyed it,” Busch said. “A lot of people hated it. I guess those are the ones with 88s tattooed on their arms, or maybe still 8s.
“I got no issues with Junior; it’s his fans that are crazy.”
Told of the comments, Earnhardt Jr., who switched from No. 8 to No. 88 when he moved to Hendrick Motorsports, said he was confident that his fans could “handle themselves.”
“They’re good people,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of great fans that follow this sport and they’re very loyal to us and we need them more now than ever right now, so I think anyone who would be calling them out and stirring them up is causing problems not only for himself but everyone else in this sport.”
Busch said he never thought the guitar smash “would get that much attention” and added “it certainly drew the ire of the fans.”
He also seemed to take a jab at guitar artist Sam Bass, who smiled for pictures with Busch and the broken guitar in victory lane but later said publicly that he was “shocked and heartbroken” over his destroyed artwork.
“It’s his trophy, he can choose to do with it what he wants,” Bass said. “But I’m not going to lie about it. If he had asked me, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about destroying that trophy guitar whenever I win it, what do you think,’ of course I would have told him, ‘No! Please don’t. Let us give you a prop guitar.’”
Busch apparently felt Bass had flip-flopped following the weekend.
“I said I was going to buy two guitars after the race, but I didn’t know it was going to be in the spirit of both of Sam Bass’s personalities,” Busch said.
Busch said all the uproar about the incident “made me think about it, but in the end, I’m kind of like, no, I don’t regret it. It was fun, and while I was doing it, it was fun.”
Of all the feedback he received personally, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said only one comment was anything but positive. He said a fan in Berlin, Mich., told him not to break any more guitars.
“Everybody else out there, 99.9 percent of them were for it,” Busch said. “They thought it was great. … [Team President] J.D. Gibbs told me he thought it was cool, and his kids were blown away by it. They thought it was awesome.”
Asked about all the attention he gets every week for his various comments or antics, Busch smiled.
“Sounds to me like the most popular driver award goes to Kyle Busch this year,” he joked.