CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR's Busch boys are 4-for-5 in May for Sprint Cup wins and have won the past six races -- including victories in the Camping World Truck and Nationwide series.
Not bad for a couple of brothers from Las Vegas.
Kyle Busch started his birthday month early with a Sprint Cup win at Richmond on the eve of turning 25. Two weeks later, he won the Nationwide and Cup races at Dover. When the tours rolled into Charlotte Motor Speedway for a two-week stretch, Kyle Busch captured the truck and Nationwide races while older brother Kurt made a clean sweep of the Sprint Cup events with the All-Star event and the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night.
Both brothers started the season with new crew chiefs. Steve Addington, who called the shots for Kyle Busch's team at Joe Gibbs Racing until late last season, moved to the No. 2 Penske Dodge with Kurt Busch at the start of the season. His replacement, Dave Rogers, continues to make gains with the No. 18 Toyota and the younger Busch.
Both have benefited from the change. Kyle Busch is second in the point standings. He trails Kevin Harvick by just 29 points. After 13 races last season, the No. 18 was sixth in the standings -- 219 markers behind the leader.
Before Sunday's race, Kurt Busch said the communication is improving with Addington. Under Pat Tryson's direction in 2009, Busch was fourth in points and 91 points behind then-leader Tony Stewart. His second win of the season Sunday night elevated Busch to a season-high sixth place in the standings, 172 behind first. He trails fifth-place Denny Hamlin by just six points.
"What I really enjoy about Steve is the confidence he gives me in the car and the adjustments that he makes," Kurt Busch said. "When we come into the sport, you're going to drive the wheels off anything, and you can overstep the line and wreck some cars.
"As you get more experience, you line up with an experienced crew chief. There's some times I'll just go, 'Hey, make a change. I'll drive the wheels off whatever you give me.' I feel like Steve's helped me pick up my game because I have a fresher outlook on different set-ups."
Still, the Busch brothers' performances are not devoid of controversy. That's nothing new in their world. As soon as the brothers began winning at local tracks and on tours throughout the Southwest, there was a target on their backs. Even though Kurt Busch was a trailblazer for his brother, it didn't make the journey any easier for Kyle. Sometimes, it made it worse.
With Kurt's concentration solely on the Sprint Cup Series, he has become less of a magnet for debate. Kyle continues to attract the ire of those that don't subscribe to his aggressiveness on the track and his cocky demeanor out of the car.
And as happy as Kurt Busch was to celebrate his 22nd career Cup win on Sunday night, Kyle Busch was still smarting from having his butt chewed by Jeff Burton after a late-race altercation when he, too, should have been rejoicing in his remarkable comeback. On Lap 168, the No. 18 made contact on pit road with Brad Keselowski, was penalized to the tail end of the lead cars and restarted 25th. To make up 22 positions over the final 232 laps was a testament to Kyle's commitment despite radioing to the crew that his car was not drivable.
"I can't say that we could have asked for a better finish," Kyle Busch said. "I don't know where we should have finished -- but probably 10th or 12th -- with what he had. But we made some bold moves on restarts. The guys did an awesome job on pit road that got me track position. Pretty proud of the way our results are paying off. This is why you work as hard as you do.
"These are the nights that championships are made of."
While the Busch brothers will never be recognized for accomplishing their jobs quietly, success will be the ultimate revenge. Considering that Kyle Busch has already amassed 71 victories in NASCAR's three top tours and Kurt continues to climb up the all-time win ranks, the brothers are well on their way to evening the score.
Racking up the enemies
Jeff Burton parked his car alongside Kyle Busch on pit road following the Coca-Cola 600 to deliver a message about respect.
Burton was miffed that Kyle Busch aggressively battled the veteran for position with less than 20 laps remaining in the race. Busch lined up seventh on the restart with Burton beside him.
Busch claims he didn't have a lot of room and that Clint Bowyer "forced" him to the middle. When the two cars collided on the first lap, Burton cut a tire and was forced to pit.
"The last restart, Kyle made it three-wide because the guys on the bottom didn't have tires and he was trying to make something happen, which I don't have a problem with," Burton said. "So he runs into me and cuts my left rear tire, then I have a problem with it.
"He's real aggressive. That's cool. But when he starts affecting me with his aggressiveness, I just will not put up with it. I've been around here long enough. I just will not tolerate it."
The late-race pit stop knocked the No. 31 Chevrolet to 25th despite running in the top 10 for most of the race.
Jeff Gordon jumped two positions in the standings (fourth) and is the top Hendrick driver in points. David Reutimann (fifth) posted consecutive top-five finishes for the first time this season. He was 24th in points before Dover and has vaulted to 19th. Jimmie Johnson finished 37th on Sunday night despite leading 36 laps. He lost three positions in the point standings and dropped to seventh. Because of a valiant effort by the No. 48 team, Johnson survived the event and did not add to his tally of three DNFs. Paul Menard was the top finishing Ford (eighth). The No. 98 started 33rd and gained 25 positions throughout the evening. Dale Earnhardt Jr., led laps (10) for the fourth time in 13 races. However, he finished 22nd and dropped to 17th in the point standings. All three Front Row Motorsports cars are in the top 35 in owner points and will not have to qualify on time this Friday at Pocono.
After Kurt Busch 's bossman Roger Penske lost the Indianapolis 500 to his open wheel rival Chip Ganassi earlier in the day, the driver of the blue deuce wasn't going to let the same fate to happen at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch said of the closing laps of the Coca-Cola 600 with Jamie McMurray in his mirror:
"I thought about that Ganassi car behind us. He wasn't going to get us."
Chip Ganassi's take on the outcome:
"My old buddy Penske beat me tonight."