Monday, May 29, 2017

When will Kyle Busch grow up?

It was a long day of great racing Sunday between the Monaco Grand Prix -- Ferrari's first win in 16 years behind Sebastian Vettel -- Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola.

It was great to see Kimi Raikkonen make headway as Vettel's teammate, leading some laps early before finishing second. It left my heart in my throat at times when Takuma Sato and Helio Castroneves duked it out at 230 mph in the closing laps for the win at Indy.

And my heart sank when I saw Kyle Busch's reactions to finishing second at a very late hour in the 600. Maybe it's living by the Ricky Bobby mantra of "second place is the first loser." Maybe he needed a nap.

But if you judge how Busch felt finishing second based on how abruptly his media availability ended at Charlotte Motor Speedway, you'd have thought the sky was falling on him.

Of course, it wasn't. It was short, bitter and painful to watch him spit on everyone again.

If we had a paid translator, he'd probably interpret what Kyle said Sunday night like this:

"Waah! I lost again. I need a blankie."

Maybe not quite like that, but you get the point. Same garbage, different day.

Please stop and look at this objectively for a minute. In what was a complete 180-degree opposite of Busch, Castroneves had some emotion in his voice when he was interviewed on the grid after finishing second to Sato, but answered the questions to the ABC cameras with dignity and class.

No "nothing surprises me anymore" and tossing the microphone aside crap. Just salute the guy who beat you to the line, smile as best you can, and move on to next week.

That's Helio. He's got a resume as impressive as Kyle's, and will join the four-win club at Indianapolis -- which still has only three drivers -- sooner than later.

We're only one-third of the way through the 2017 season. Who knew Richard Childress Racing drivers would have more wins (two) than Joe Gibbs (none)? Certainly not me.

Also of note: Dillon led exactly two laps all night, the most important ones. Jimmie Johnson's fuel cell ran dry at lap 398, and Dillon made sure the No. 3 would return to Victory Lane for the first time since Dale Earnhardt put it there in 2000.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took to Twitter later Sunday night and defended Busch's reaction to the loss, saying drivers need to be allowed to let more of their individuality out.

Point taken, but what's so hard for Busch to recognize that his fans have a right to understand what happened and what went wrong straight from the source? The conspiracy theories are certainly making the rounds on social media today.

And all the while, Kyle Busch will be back.

Let's get this last point out of the way. Busch will be in Victory Lane before the end of this season, probably more than once. He'll bow to the fans from the door of his 18 car on the track, then celebrate his win like nothing else ever happened.

Being a gracious winner is one thing. For Kyle Busch, lessons in how to lose with at least a tiny degreee of grace may officially be a lost cause.

Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter @TlommyZee81 ore email