It was the battle of the weekend. While Kurt Busch's triumph of the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway was something that got far too little attention, the on-track battle between Busch and Brad Keselowski got too much publicity. So much in fact that when I went on racing pages this weekend all over social media, that's the topic NASCAR fans focused on the most and the truth is, NASCAR fans are confused.
If you look at NASCAR for the last 15 years the biggest gripe from NASCAR fans has been the lack of personality these drivers have. Look at six time champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson's dominance in the sport has been something that doesn't get enough publicity. When Johnson wins, he gives credit to his team and when he loses he doesn't get too excited. Very rarely do you see Johnson cause a stink on the track and very rarely does he say the wrong thing. If you talk to NASCAR fans the majority of them do not care for Johnson because of his personality. Constantly you hear race fans claim that Jimmie Johnson is "too vanilla." Too Vanilla? Okay fine. So lets go the complete opposite of vanilla and move to Kyle Busch.
Kyle Busch is not vanilla. Busch wins on a consistent basis and shows NASCAR fans that all important "personality" that race fans look for in Jimmie Johnson. Busch is rough around the edges and when he wins he usually shoves it in his opponent's face and when he loses he shows frustration by sometimes not talking to reporters or pitching a fit. While Busch provides the personality that Jimmie Johnson doesn't have he still constantly gets booed in driver introductions. Busch is considered 'not a nice guy' by many fans just because he shows the personality that Johnson lacks. So lets go to a guy who wins but has a little less of a personality than Busch. For that we move to Brad Keselowski
Keselowski, who is the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, has a little personality but hasn't gone over the top as much as Busch has. Yet every time Keselowski states how he feels NASCAR fans go crazy and say Keselowski is a jerk. Lets take this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway. Keselowski was running in the top ten when he came into the pits and got involved in a pit road incident with Kurt Busch. Busch was coming off of pit road and had nowhere to go and collided with Keselowski's Ford. Keselowski had major damage on his #2 Ford and had to bring it behind the wall to remove the nose off his car.
When Keselowski came back out he went out and stalked Kurt Busch on the racetrack. Keselowski slammed into Busch several times and Busch repaid the favor to Keselowski. It was NASCAR at its best. Drivers showing raw emotions and beating and banging each other up and down the racetrack. It was something NASCAR fans wanted….right?
Wrong, apparently. Everywhere you look this week NASCAR fans are complaining how Keselowski was out of line and, in some cases, people have killed Keselowski for "rough driving." Rough driving? Isn't that what Dale Earnhardt did his entire career and he had a persona and was even given a nickname "The Intimidator?" Many fans want to see another Dale Earnhardt style driver in NASCAR, a driver who takes no crap and roughs people up when he has to.
Yet anytime we see a driver rough someone up or say something out of the ordinary people go crazy. It just proves NASCAR fans are confused as to what they want. Jimmie Johnson is too vanilla, Kyle Busch is too mean, Brad Keselowski is too rough. It just proves that NASCAR fans don't really know what they want.
In the end, maybe Jimmie Johnson has it all figured out.Tags: Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, martinsville speedway, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series