King Kurt Konquers!

Jul 20 2010 - 2:36pm

Kurt Busch came to Charlotte Motor Speedway two weeks ago without a single top-10 finish to his name.

He left last Sunday night with two straight victories, and the kind of momentum that can earn a fellow a series title if he plays his cards right.

Busch led 252 of the 400 laps of the Coca-Cola 600, but had to fight off a spirited challenge from Jamie McMurray to earn the victory. McMurray was bidding to give team owner Chip Ganassi a Memorial Day double in addition to a CMS double, but fell about a second short at the finish.

As for Busch, he has quietly come in from the cold and has emerged as the latest challenger to the throne of King Jimmie the Fourth (as in Four-Time champ). He’s sixth in the points headed to the summer season, and with a Vortex bottle full of momentum in hand.

As for Johnson, it was another night to forget. He crashed once and took Denny Hamlin to the grass and out of contention, then finished the job on lap 272 by center-punching the backstretch wall with the nose of his No. 48 Chevrolet.

The way that car looked when it came to rest was enough to send a chill through any good 48 fan’s heart, with the hood up and various life-giving fluids leaking out of it, but Chad Knaus and the boys got out the racer tape and rivet guns and got him back out 33 laps later.

As I said that night, that was more a resurrection than a repair job, and he finished 37th. How bad has it gotten for Four-Time and friends? His average finish over the last five races is a pedestrian 26th, and he isn’t turning heads the way he has the past four seasons.

A cautionary note, however, as he’s been in this spot before and still come back to win. Until those last 10 races play out, if he’s part of the Chase, there’s no call to claim that the fork has been stuck in the side of the Lowe’s Chevrolet.

Speaking of forks, it looked like Jeff Burton was going to use one on Kyle Busch at the end of the race after young Busch cut down Burton’s left rear tire in a restart scrum with 19 to go. Burton faded from fifth at the line to 26th at the finish, and when the engines were silenced, he vented all over the M&M Pretzels driver…in full view of the crowd on pit road.

I know a fair amount about butt-chewing, mostly from having played sports since I was a nipper. Burton took a page from Vince Lombardi, Knute Rockne, Bobby Knight and whatever other over-the-top coach you can think of and did them one better.

Poor Kyle never knew what hit him. Burton is usually the most reasonable fellow in the garage and hardly ever raises his voice, but I heard him from where I was…about 200 feet away. Mostly, though, the crowd kind of told you what was going on…screaming and yelling fit to bust.

It was a sobering moment for Busch, I’m thinking, and while it won’t change his driving style much, he’ll be a bit more cautious around the 31 car from here on out.

As my fellow scribe Al Pearce said, if you’re not watching the 18 car at least once a lap, you’re missing a pretty good show. The boy can flat drive, and he’s gotten away with enough outrageous moves that he honestly believes he can make that race car do whatever he might ask at any moment.

That’s a good thing, even if Burton didn’t think so Sunday. On restarts, he’s an absolute demon, and he can do stuff in a car that most of us can’t even in video games. In his 6-year-plus career, he’s won 71 races across NASCAR’s top three series, and that’s better than 10 per season.

He’s not going to let a little fussing get in the way of what he wants, and what he wants is the Sprint Cup trophy as a doorstop in his house. More than one, preferably, but at least one to start with. He has incredible talent behind the wheel, and at the ripe old age of 25, he’s gonna get a couple unless something untoward happens.

Burton calmed down enough later to say that he liked racing with Kyle, but that sometimes the kid is just too aggressive. Fair enough, and most likely true, but he has to contend with that for the rest of his career. It’s gonna be a blast! Stay up-to-date on all things ONMC with @NASCARfansonly on Twitter account, check us out on Facebook at Official NASCAR Members Club and look for the blog on Fridays at