THIS WEEK IN NASCAR Kyle Busch is his own man

RICHMOND, Va. — Why is Kyle Busch so good? That is, apart from his obviously impressive skill level. Busch is ambitious. He wants it all. He races in every race he can. At Richmond, he didn’t just win on Saturday and Sunday nights. He won at Southside Speedway on the previous Thursday night. At age 24, he has 15 Sprint Cup victories, 24 in the Nationwide Series and 11 in Trucks. That’s a total of 50. Busch’s mind is like a calculator. He’s concocted the notion that maybe he can win 200 races in the three series combined before he hangs up his helmet. In one sense, it’s kind of meaningless. Richard Petty, of course, won 200 Cup races — and none in the lower series. Combining victories would be like counting the Double-A home runs of a big-league catcher. By that standard, Crash Davis (Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham) would be in the Hall of Fame. There’s something remarkable, though, in a man who wants to achieve something no one else wanted to try. This is a kid who loves to race… to an extent that borders on the absurd. Pull over! See those lights? That might be a dirt track. Let me call my guy on the cell. Maybe he can hitch up the trailer and get my Late Model up here. Busch is also absolutely unafraid of being himself. Many drivers are little more than cardboard cutouts. They hide behind the advice of handlers, resting their assumption on the notion that, if they kiss up enough, nice things will be written about them. The driver who has won 11 of NASCAR’s last 46 races shares with the drivers of yore — Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Harry Gant, et al. — a thirst for competition. Busch didn’t grow up in Taylorsville, though. He grew up in Las Vegas. He has that trademark flair for the dramatic. Why does he bow to the hostile masses? He claimed Vegas had nothing to do with it. “I’m here to be myself, man,” Busch said in the wee hours of Sunday after the May 2 Sprint Cup race. “I am who I am. Everybody is who they are, for whatever reason. I don’t think it’s necessarily the way you’re raised or where you’re raised, or whatever. I just think what you believe in, what your beliefs are, what all happens around you as you grow up and stuff. “For me, it’s fun to come out here and, I guess, play the villain role sometimes, and yet be liked other times. It’s always cool to have that aspect in this sport. Even if I wasn’t in this sport, you know, doing something else, you’ve got to be happy with the way you’re living life and doing what you’re doing. Otherwise, it’s not worth living or not worth doing what you’re doing.” Kyle Busch is his own man in a world where few are at his age. His theme song ought to be “I Gotta Be Me.”

Copyright 2009 King Features Syndicate