Controversy was in full swing yesterday after the 45th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. The 300 lap Super Late Model race is considered to be the Daytona 500 of short-track racing by many. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kyle Busch helped bring a lot of publicity to the event when he won the race in 2009. He once again was in the race this year and his actions created a lot of controversy.
On lap 154 Busch was battling TJ Reaid for the lead after a restart when Reaid seemed to squeeze Busch a little bit. Busch reacted by spinning Reaid out in Turn 4 on the same lap. Reaid's spinning car also collected Ross Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Clay Alexander, Bubba Pollard and John Hunter Nemechek. Some of the drivers were able to continue with their damage and still salvage good days, but the accident definitely set off a lot of opinions about Kyle Busch's involvement in the race.
The interesting thing about the accident is that Reaid used to race one of Kyle Busch's late models. He did not have nice words for his former boss after the race.
“I guess (Busch) got pissed off I got him on the restart,” Reaid said. “Typical him, he’s gonna (expletive) cry.”
Reaid was not the only driver that had strong words for Busch after the race. Last year's winner Chase Elliott, who was involved in the crash but still managed to somehow salvage a fifth place finish, thinks Busch should stay away from these races.
“I’m disappointed. We should be here,” Elliott said after walking away from victory lane after congratulating eventual winner Erik Jones. “The only thing I’d do different is I’d tell Kyle Busch to not come down here and race with us. He needs to show respect to all drivers.”
Reaid was a teammate to Elliott on his father, Bill Elliott's late model team. Their feelings were strong about not wanting the NASCAR star to race against them if he can't show respect. Busch wasn't the only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to race on Sunday. David Ragan also raced the event and finished eighth after sitting on the pole. Sprint Cup youngster, Landon Cassill, tried to make the race but failed to qualify.
The frustration is understandable from those who suffered from Busch's dumb move to wreck Reaid. But having a driver of Kyle Busch's stature at the race only makes the race even bigger of an event. His involvement draws more fans and raises the stakes for those drivers trying to make a name for themselves like Erik Jones. Busch has 24 Sprint Cup Series wins in eight full seasons, 51 Nationwide Series wins and 30 Camping World Truck Series wins.
The 16-year old Jones, who was making his first ever Snowball Derby start, was able to battle and beat Busch in the closing laps in great door-to-door action. He was fired up and enjoyed being able to have the opportunity to beat one of the industry's best.
“We just beat NASCAR star Kyle Busch,” Jones said. “I can’t believe it. Guys race for this championship for a lifetime and don’t get it. And for me, my first time, to get it? It’s amazing. Kyle’s one of the best, obviously, but I wasn’t going to lose this. It’s hard to describe what it means to me.”
It was a great opportunity and feat for Jones to go toe-to-toe with Busch and win. It could be something that lands him in a NASCAR ride in the future and it is because of the fact that Busch races in events like the Snowball Derby.
Busch did not comment on his wrecking of Reaid after the race, something that he has learned in the Cup Series. He doesn't usually open his mouth or conduct an interview if he knows he has nothing good to say. But in this case he should have answered questions critiques had. If he is not going to take responsibility for his on track actions then maybe he should stay home and away from these races like the 17-year old Elliott suggested.
Busch had a rough 2012 season in NASCAR as he only won one race across the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series and missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The bottom line is that even being on the heels of a bad season it doesn't mean he should let his frustration carry over to a Late Model race where he is battling hard for the lead with someone.
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