I was reading this and I realized that NASCAR.com columnist Joe Menzer takes an awful lot of abuse from people. Yet he always seems to respond in kind. How does he do that? You’d think he’d eventually snap.
ARTICLE BY JOE MENZER
It’s the end of the year and everyone knows what that means.
Santa already has emptied his gift bag; now it’s time to empty the One Menz mailbag.
Half of it was emptied at mid-season, but it’s still full of emailers both angry and ecstatic. Well, mostly angry or upset. But there were a few who took the time to say they liked something that was written.
No two drivers during the second half of the 2012 season pushed the hot buttons with readers more than the two Busch brothers, Kyle and Kurt.
* Season in Review: Controversial Kyle | Mercurial Kurt
Let’s start with a reader who actually agreed with me and said I was great because, well, it makes me feel good during this feel-good holiday season. So it was with this emailer who felt compelled to write in after I chastised Kyle Busch for wrecking Ron Hornaday during a caution period in a Camping World Truck Series race at Texas, which led to Busch getting parked for the remainder of that weekend by NASCAR.
Without further ado, here is that sampling followed by several others (last names having been abbreviated and some emails edited for brevity and clarity):
Nice piece, Joe. That imbecile is lucky if he stays in the 18. It’s too bad that Coach [Joe] Gibbs has to put up with such antics. It must get really old.
Thanks for another year of great stories….
Philip B., Macon, Ga.
Phil, did you say “nice piece” and “thanks for another year of great stories?” That’s all I heard.
And Phil was not alone in dishing out praise for the tough-talk column on young Kyle. Another emailer wrote:
You nailed it. Couldn’t agree more with you. Jerks just can’t quit being jerks. [Kyle] and his brother are the two biggest spoiled brats in all of NASCAR right now.
Thanks for not pulling back when you wrote that piece.
Mark, whereabouts unknown
Hey, wait a minute. I didn’t even start in on Kurt in that piece. And besides, not everyone agreed with us, such as the following two readers who defended young Kyle and argued that we all (including NASCAR officials) overreacted to the Hornaday incident.
I would like to get your opinion on the whole Kyle Busch situation and if it really was that bad. I have been watching since 2004 and honestly, I was really surprised that they sat him for something that I have seen countless other drivers do throughout the years. How can people be so appalled at what Kyle did? He wrecked someone who pushed him up the race track. Correct me if I am wrong, but this is auto racing and that is just the nature of the beast.
Heck, isn’t seeing drivers lose their cool and wreck other drivers the draw to a race like Bristol? So how can fans of this sport watch and go to a race for that type of behavior, but then want to banish Kyle from the sport when he does it, just at a different track? I think it is a very fair statement that the vast majority of the Busch lynching squad is of Junior Nation — and but correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t Senior [meaning Dale Earnhardt] just like that? He wrecked people then claimed it was to “rattle their cage”. Same thing, but Senior is a prodigy and Kyle is a cancer to the sport.
[Kyle] is getting in trouble for stuff that he and everyone else is out there to do, and he is not hurting the sport. He is like Happy Gilmore, ushering it into the new era.
Doug K., address unlisted but possibly from Las Vegas
You and all your arm-chair quarterbacks seem to lose sight of the fact that Kyle Busch is a talent rarely seen in NASCAR today and that Kevin Harvick is a scum bag and Ron Hornaday is just a truck driver [who] failed in both Busch and Cup ventures. Kevin Harvick keeps talking about how tough he is and I laugh at him. He’s about the size of an M&M or smaller and he’s talking about beating up Kyle Busch.
Paul D., address unlisted but possibly Doug K.’s neighbor in the Busch brothers’ native Las Vegas
Wow. Where to start on these two? Doug, here’s the deal: You weren’t the only one to write in and claim that Kyle didn’t do anything worse than, say, what Carl Edwards did when he deliberately wrecked Brad Keselowski at Talladega in 2010. In fact, some argued that was worse because Edwards did it at high speed on a straightaway.
Well, what Edwards did that day was wrong, too. But what Busch did, he did DURING A CAUTION PERIOD. As everyone else was slowing, he sped up to catch Hornaday and turn him hard into the wall. It was beyond stupid. There was no excuse for it.
As for Paul, I’ll agree that Kyle Busch is a talent rarely seen in NASCAR. For that matter, big brother Kurt is an extremely rare NASCAR driving talent, as well. But for both of them, getting along with fellow human beings on and off the track is a large part of what enables rare talents to become truly great, legendary drivers. They’ve consistently struggled with realizing that part of the equation their entire careers and will continue to struggle to reach their true potentials as long as this pattern is continued. It’s that simple.
* Menzer: It’s time for Busch to take a long look in the mirror
* Menzer: Naughty or nice, NASCAR karma comes around
And Kevin Harvick the size of “an M&M or smaller?” Funny line, but not quite true. Plus, Harvick has an edge to him that many others lack. But the real truth of the matter is that Harvick simply may have seen footage of his sixty-something owner, Richard Childress, placing Kyle in a headlock and taking care of business earlier in the year when Childress took offense to Kyle wrecking a Childress-owned truck.
Meanwhile, there was the little matter of a long-running feud between Kurt Busch and five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson during the 2011 season. It finally spilled over at Richmond in the final race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup and lead to this email:
Good thing Jimmie’s rivalry is with Kurt. At least he has a chance. If Kyle was mad at him, Jimmie might be [in] trouble – both from a shove into the wall and from the standpoint of wins. I’m an Earnhardt fan but even I can see Kyle Busch is a DRIVER. He can drive his car and beat yours.
Joe H., Fairhope, Ala.
Geez, that got right back to Kyle again, didn’t it? There were some readers who wanted to write in and talk about something different, such as this one:
What’s your opinion of changing the rules concerning Talladega/Daytona races? I think these are pseudo-races which need some tuning. Taking off the spoilers, restrictor plates and bumpers would be a good start. Do something so the drivers have to lift in the corners like they do at other tracks. Make them race!
Bill C., Deaver, Wyo.
First of all, I’m just impressed that someone up in Wyoming is paying such close attention to NASCAR and whatever my opinions may be. Wyoming is one of about only eight states in this great country I’ve yet to set foot in.
As for the rest, I think NASCAR needs to be mighty careful not to sacrifice safety for more speed. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I think the racing at Daytona and Talladega since the two-car drafts became reality has been pretty compelling. Changes to the ways teammates and/or other drivers are able to communicate with each other during such races appear to be on the way and may change the dynamics of it, and other tweaks to the rules might help, too. But NASCAR absolutely cannot and will not sacrifice safety for the sake of trying to put on a better show — so going faster at places like Daytona and Talladega isn’t likely the answer.
* Menzer: RCR teams had the right idea at Talladega
Finally, there are those who don’t care for any answers I may come up with about any racing subject — and they aren’t shy about making that known.
One e-mail received recently said simply:
SUBJECT LINE: Your opinion …
… is BS!
Signed, Larry L.
Another took issue with the fact that I defended race teams’ right to change crew members during the Chase if they so chose.
YOU ARE WRONG AS USUAL. IF A TEAM CAN’T WIN WITH WHAT GOT THEM WHERE THEY ARE THEY SHOULD NOT BE IN THE CHASE AT ALL………………..
Spunky, whereabouts unknown
All I can say, Spunky, is QUIT YELLING! We can hear you without the ALL CAPS LOCK ON!
And finally, there are the readers who are going to claim verbal victory over you no matter what you do. Consider this email exchange between myself and a reader who took issue with a column in which I praised NASCAR’s new wild card format and the Chase in general, suggesting that perhaps the time had come for NASCAR to consider spreading these ideas to the Nationwide and Truck series, as well.
The Chase sucks. The new wild-card rule sucks. Why on Earth should NASCAR spread that garbage to the other series? I don’t think NASCAR or idiots like you will be happy until we re-set the points and the line the cars up 43 wide at the white flag at Homestead for a one-lap championship shootout. Give the title to the most deserving team/driver — and the old, pre-2004 way was the best way to do that.
Michael B., suspected president of your local Bah-Humbug Club
I wrote back and said …
Obviously I disagree. But thanks for your email and have a great day!
To which his final retort was:
Well, thanks for agreeing with me that you’re a moron. That was unexpected. You have a nice day as well.
Hey, at least he said to have a nice day. Merry Christmas, everyone!
* Menzer: Wild card craziness guaranteed to shake up things
The opinions expressed are solely those of the participants.
Happy New Year Joe! Hopefully people treat you better next year.