24 January 2012
'I have to change', admits Kyle
Kyle Busch has admitted that he needs to change his approach to racing in 2012 if he wants to still have a job at the end of the season.
Kyle Busch polarises the NASCAR world like no other driver. He's the one that a large proportion of the fans hate with a passion, but who also has a big fan base who wouldn't want him any other way than as the sport's 'bad boy'.
"I've got fans that tell me all the time that they don't want to see me change, that they don't want to see a difference in Kyle Busch," said the driver at the start of the NASCAR pre-season media activity this week. "But ultimately it doesn't work.
"I've got to change something, I just have to figure out what that is and make it work for me," he continued. "If you keep getting in trouble, you're not going to be here very long. I'm trying to change something."
Busch has clearly been doing some introspective soul-searching during the off-season, after a 2011 that should have been a brilliant success after four wins during the regular season put him in front going into the Chase play-offs, only for him to finish at the bottom of the Chase contenders ten races later.
The turning point, of course, was Texas - and the Truck Series race in which his retaliation against Ron Hornaday Jr. got Busch kicked out of the whole weekend of competition.
"I would have obviously liked for it to never have happened and if I could, I would take it back," said Busch about the original incident. "We went through a lot through the first few weeks and months after the Texas incident, but since then, it's been good."
Fortunately for Busch, his team owner Joe Gibbs stood by him - "I wouldn't be here if the guy didn't believe in me" - and helped smooth over relations with angry sponsors, in particular Mars which is the primary sponsor of the #18 through its M&Ms brand. And he's found an even better match for his personality with the new sponsor of the Kyle Busch Motorsports Nationwide car, Monster Energy.
"Frankly I don't think they care," Kyle said of Monster's attitude to his 2011 problems. But M&Ms did - they pulled their sponsorship from the #18 for the final two races of 2011 after Texas, although they have returned to support the team in 2012.
"Kyle really does care about the fans and what they think about him," stressed Joe Gibbs. "We've got a sponsor there that has been awesome with it ... I think we kind of crafted a game plan to really stay focused on what we're doing."
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