(Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR / Jason Smith)
In recent months, NASCAR fans and media alike have been wondering what has happened to the old Kyle Busch – the hothead who storms away from the press after a race when things haven’t gone his way and the cocky winner who waves and bows to crowds who boo him.
The 25-year-old, who turns 26 on May 2, won the Camping World Truck Series race at Nashville last Friday and rather than smashing the prized trophy – a hand-painted Gibson guitar – in rock star fashion like he did in Nashville in 2009 when he won a Nationwide Series race, he handed the guitar to one of his crew members and wished TV viewers a Happy Easter.
To be fair, when Busch smashed the guitar in 2009, he said he did it so he could give each one of his crew members a piece of the trophy. But when fans criticized the move, he seemed unfazed.
Fast forward two years and you hear a calmer, more respectful Busch in post-race interviews. You see a guy who is making wiser decisions on the track. And you have to wonder, where is this new Kyle Busch coming from?
Some think his newfound maturity has to do with getting married last December to Samantha Sarcinella. Some think it has something to do with understanding the rigors of owning a race team in the Camping World Truck Series. And some think he’s just getting older and with age comes wisdom.
While all of those dynamics might be at work in Busch’s life, a new revelation was revealed Thursday night on ESPN’s NASCAR Now program when ESPN reporter Marty Smith asked Busch about how he got to where he is now. Busch spoke about the natural maturity process we all go through and about giving back to people through the Kyle Busch Foundation and other drivers’ charities, then he began talking about something that probably surprised viewers.
“You live by the book,” Busch told Smith. “And the book is a good tool to help you through challenges in life, aspects of life, and to have people that help you with that, for me, now, is more beneficial to me than actually reading it. Talking to Joe (Gibbs, the owner of the team Busch drives for), and talking to people that have really lived some stories that they can allude you [to], that you’ve been in the same place already. I’m 25 and I’ve done some of the same things Coach Gibbs has done. And so it’s been interesting to feel some of those people’s passion about it.”
“The book being the Bible?” Smith asked.
“Interesting,” Smith said. “So is that part of the evolution of Kyle Busch – finding God?”
“Well, I mean a little bit. You know, that’s part of it. When you live your life and you don’t really pay attention to how you’re living your life, it can really impact you, versus the other way.”
His answers were a bit murky. Maybe it’s because he is trying to figure out what has happened to him, if indeed he has become a Christian. Or maybe it’s because he is being wooed by the Holy Spirit and isn’t sure how to express how he is feeling. Or maybe the culture at Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) is just making him think about his previous actions and he doesn’t like what he sees.
JGR offers several weekly Bible studies to employees and Gibbs, who has won three Super Bowls as a coach in the NFL and three Sprint Cup Championships as a team owner in NASCAR, is known for pointing people to the Bible. Busch’s comments about living by the book sound a lot like what Gibbs preaches.
“Think about this,” says Gibbs in a video on his website, www.GamePlanForLife.com. “If God’s our head coach, would he put us here without a game plan? Absolutely not. He left what? His Word, the Bible. As my life is a testimony, I’ll tell you this – following the wrong game plan, it leads to disaster. Following God’s game plan for life led me to success.”