When Kyle Busch decides to misbehave, he often does it in rather spectacular fashion. Last Tuesday’s citation, for driving 128 MPH on a North Carolina public road zoned for 45 MPH is his latest example of bad behavior.
[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Over the past several months we’ve watched an interesting transformation from Kyle Busch. The “Old Kyle”, a brash I’ll do and say what I want character, seemed to be determined to live up to his official “Rowdy” nickname. The antics of “Old Kyle” sometimes hit legendary proportions and, in some cases, were even highly entertaining. I can actually recall many times when I referred to his behavior as “job security.”
Just when we started to get used to the antics of “Old Kyle, that side of the driver began to evaporate. Busch entered into a transformation and slowly but surely “New Kyle” began to emerge. That former high level of intensity and drama, often displayed out of the race car, was replaced by a more calm and mature demeanor. He became someone who chose his words very carefully, especially in front of the media. The very same things that used to make this driver angry within a New York minute now barely became blips on his personal radar. This transformation was likely the biggest sigh of relief his team owner, Joe Gibbs, has enjoyed in quite awhile.
In all of us there’s that basic good versus evil struggle that has to be frequently dealt with. It’s not unlike the silly sequence from a Saturday cartoon where the tiny good angel stands on your left shoulder and says “on no no, this is wrong and we must not do this.” That is counteracted by the tiny little devil, standing on the right shoulder, that says “don’t listen to him, let’s go have some fun. Let’s do this.”
In the case of Kyle Busch, the little devil on his right shoulder won the argument last Tuesday. According to reports from the Iredell County ACE, Aggressive Criminal Enforcement, Busch was driving a 2012 Lexus LFA sports car on a North Carolina public road between the communities of Troutman and Mooresville. That’s where he was clocked doing 128 MPH in a 45 MPH zone. He was issued a citation for speeding along with careless and reckless driving.
That very same day there was an official statement released by Busch who profusely apologized for the incident. The statement said “I was test driving a new sports car and I got carried away.” The official apology also stated Busch’s willingness to take full responsibility for his actions along with an assurance that something like this will never happen again.
While I don’t doubt that Busch is indeed apologetic and embarrassed by his latest episode, one can’t help but think the carefully worded prose in this official statement was carefully created by a spin doctor from Joe Gibbs Racing. It was likely created by the same person who spent a great deal of late night overtime sitting in an office trying to put a coat of polish on previous “Old Kyle” episodes.
Hypothetically speaking, if local resident “John Q Public” committed this act he would also be issued a citation. The resolution would likely include a well deserved hefty fine and the possibility of a license suspension for 60 days per North Carolina DMV law. There could also be some possible stipulations regarding a period of community service and perhaps even probation. Once the matter was adjudicated in court, “Mr John Q Public” would settle his business with the county and its doubtful that his misdeed would barely make the next edition of the local paper.
The situation was diversely different for Kyle Busch because of his well known celebrity status as a star in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The ink was barely dry on his traffic citation before the story was ran by every news and sports media center in the country. While the episode was certainly embarrassing for the driver, it was even more embarrassing for Joe Gibbs Racing. Once again the Gibbs organization found themselves having to explain the actions of this driver to their sponsors while in the midst of putting out his latest public relations fire.
This incident is not going to become an official NASCAR matter. On Wednesday NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharpe issued a statement that said “this is a matter Kyle will have to handle with the authorities in Iredell County. Based on what we know right now, this would not impact his status as a NASCAR driver.”
Paying the monetary fine from his citation is not a problem for Kyle Busch. He’s a wealthy man. It’s likely that a fine will be the only punishment he receives from actions that are widely regarded as being both dangerous and completely irresponsible.
After all, he is a celebrity and it’s well known that in our country there are rules and procedures that apply to celebrities that would never be afforded to someone such as “John Q. Public.” If you find that hard to believe then ask anyone, including yours truly, from southern California about celebrity justice. We will quickly drop the names Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen just to name two. Don’t even get us started on the O J Simpson matter.
If Kyle Busch is going to have any real problems from this incident it will likely come from Joe or J D Gibbs who were reported to be “looking into the situation.” They will likely instruct him to find a way to lock “Old Kyle” into a box never to be heard from again.