June 26, 2011
The man who up until a month ago was more famous this season for his radio rants directed at his team than his success on the track absolutely dominated the Toyota/Save Mart 350, winning by more than three seconds over second-place Carl Edwards to pick up his first road course win.
Busch's radio tirades reached their pinnacle at Richmond, where (among many expletives) he made the monkey comparison and tied his team's struggles to the presence of then-Penske technical director Tom German. A week later at Darlington, Busch said that while it may not have been the best way for him to go about making his point, that yes, something was accomplished with his rants.
"There's been great feedback, and everybody's listening," he said. "Yeah, it wasn't the best forum to go out there on Saturday night and talk about things. We've just, in my mind, seen things deteriorate, and I've held it in, held in it, and it wasn't the right spot to do so. Now with people listening, I think we're going to make some good strides."
Later in the month, Busch said that the tirades would cease after the media was making a big deal about them.
"I always laugh and listen to you guys contradict yourselves because you say that you want us to be more colorful, but all that you want to do to a driver is just thrash them when they show personality," Busch said. "That's what I'm going through with this radio, and from now on there's not going to be anything on it except solid team communication because that's all there needs to be."
German left Penske at the end of May to attend graduate school. However, it wasn't connected to Busch's tirade, as the team said German started the application process in 2010.
Media thrashing or not, those strides Busch mentioned at Darlington have materialized recently. Entering Sonoma, Busch was on a wave of three straight pole positions, and while he qualified 11th for Sunday's race, he had the best car during practice and certainly during the race, where he led a race-high 76 laps. The win solidified his spot in the top 10, where he, somewhat remarkably, sits fourth in the standings.
Is the Penske team's increased performance connected to Busch's rants? Well, it's impossible to say, but it certainly looks that way on the surface.
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